Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My birthday: Pocket Project- Day 1



So today is my birthday and day one of my pocket project. Since today is also one of my last days in Chicago, I thought it highly appropriate to make my “new thing” something related to this city.

I have done very well in exploring Chicago so there weren’t many new things outstanding on my Chicago list… except one.

This one is no ordinary tourist site. It has daunted me since I saw advertisements for it on the side of trolleys (of all things). It is THE LEDGE, and it is found at the top of the Sears (now Willis) Tower.

This is not a regular observatory deck. In fact, I have been to the top of the Sears tower, and like Ferris Bueller, I had no problem putting my head to the glass and looking down at the city. I am not concerned with height. I don’t generally get vertigo or weeks knees. I loved climbing things as a kid and that has seemingly stuck with me to this point.

Yet, even the ads themselves for THE LEDGE (motto: “dare to stand out”) made me nervous. More than heights, I don’t like feeling suspended over something. The most terrifying rides for me are the pirateship-type ones where at the end of each swing you are suspended in mid-air looking down at the ground before rushing back in the opposite direction. What, if not to feel suspensed, is the idea of standing in a glass box, looking down through a floor of virtual nothingness?

I didn’t want to do it. Well, most of me anyway.

I knew, though, that today was the day.

Unfortunately, the weather was not very cooperative (Chicago in January, go figure). So it was snowy, cloudy and foggy, but they ensured me that you could still see down to the ground from THE LEDGE. So I paid my ticket and ascended the 103 floors.

I didn’t waste my time with any of the history of the building or the regular observatory level- I knew what I was there for and went right for it. I sped walked through the other exhibits and stepped right up to the glass box and… froze. I was petrified.

Let me give you a little context. This is not a window or even a full length wall of the building made of glass. This is essentially a separate glass-enclosure stuck to the side of the tallest tower in North America. It is an add-on. It is not a true piece of the building nor was it originally intended to be there. And, it has not structurally stood the test of time. These four glass boxes were added to the observatory level in 2009, luring crazy tourists (like me) with the promise of fear. Below it is 1,353 feet (412 meters) of nothing until the very hard, very real concrete. (And yes, I know, I have gone sky diving… somehow this is different.)

Anyway, back to THE LEDGE. I wanted to walk out on it, but I found myself clutching the wall of the actual building… I forced my hand to let go and I stood on the glass floor and looked straight down at the tiny little cabs and the roofs of all the regular sized buildings and thought, “this is totally unnatural.”

My knees involuntarily wobbled, and I hopped back to the “real” floor. I tried again, but was uncomfortable with being “suspended” for more than about a minute at a time. After two or three of these attempts, I decided that it was good enough, and decided to go walk around the rest of the real observatory.

And then I thought, “No, it is not good enough.” I went back and eyed this parasitic piece of architecture, seemingly latched onto the steel building in a casual, haphazard kind of way. I thought, what do I NOT want to do. “Sit on it” was the answer. So I decided to sit on it.

I reluctantly lowered myself down to the floor, looked at the world beneath my bum, got a picture and rushed out of the glass cage. I walked away and then stopped and thought, “No." There is something else I don’t want to do.

So I walked back over to the glass leach, carefully scanned the sides for any cracks, loose bolts, or unnatural swaying and determining that it was still structurally sound at this moment, I laid down on it. It was all well and good, but I wasn’t about to get comfortable and take nap or something; so I asked a kind stranger to take a picture and then I got the heck off. I walked back onto solid ground, making a tour of the 103rd floor, letting my knees regain full control, then took the 90 second elevator ride back down to where the regular sized people and cabs were.

So on my 31st birthday, I stepped out on THE LEDGE. Let's face it, I know the metaphorical meaning behind it, and in both ways, I think that conquering this, literally and figuratively, was a necessary step forward. I defied my fear and can leave Chicago in peace.

Tomorrow I leave for Nicaragua. Since I have never been there, everything will be new, but I won’t take the easy way out. I will ensure to push my limits even there and report back when I can.

31 here I come!



Want more info? http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/05/a-glass-bottom-skydeck-for-sears-tower.html

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Pocket Project

I am turning 31 tomorrow. And I will be honest, I am not happy about it. I don’t know what it is exactly… I suppose it is the underlying idea of what I thought my life would be like at 31 and the realization that it is not that way. Essentially, I thought that at 31 my life would be more put together.

I remember thinking in high school that 30 is officially “old.” Of course, what did I know in high school? But I think many of us have the opinion that 30 is when things settle down a little- the wishy-washiness and the confusion of our twenties, figuring out what the life is about and how to do it- finally crystallizes into something concrete: a career, a marriage, a family, a home. That’s what I had thought anyway. So I suppose in comparison to this fictional “me” that I created in my head, the real me is a far cry from all of that.

I am not someone who freaks out at every birthday. In fact, I never had an issue with age. My close friends know that I actually have some weird subconscious habit of rounding up my age. Some time usually around the end of summer, I begin telling people that I am a year older than what I am. It is not that I wish this like a five year old who says “I am 5 and ¾.” On the contrary, in the moment, I am generally not even aware that I do this. Friends would usually point it out to me before I even noticed. Even turning 30 didn’t really make any waves in my life.



This year, though, my subconscious did not round up… This is the first year that my birthday has really made me think.

In this hard look at my life, I also realized that I am at the end of one of my lists. I am a fairly compulsive list maker (another truth my friends can attest to). I make lists for the day, lists for the week, lists for things to do in a new city, lists for my visitors of things to do in my new city, lists for the immediate future and lists for the far future, i.e. goals for my life.

It is this last list that has worn a little thin. On the positive side, I have accomplished many of the things I wanted to do: learn a new language (Italian), live in a country where I don’t speak the language (Germany), work for the U.N. (WFP), complete a marathon (Rome), sky dive (Atlanta), and learn tango (weekend course in DC- yet this is highly debatable due to a wacko teacher). Of course, I still have things I want to do (pet a baby lion at a rescue farm in South Africa) and many places I want to see (like Australia, hopefully to see a kangaroo in the wild). These I will get to when the time and money become available.

And in the big picture, there are plenty of things that I want in life that haven’t yet materialized (mainly the ones I listed in fictional me). But I have realized that most of the big things are not completely in my control. So having these on the list is not particularly useful to me.

So as I am waiting for the next inspiration to dictate my next marathon-type undertaking, and as I let life unfold in its own time for the biggest stuff, I am reminded of a project I started about 10 years ago, in 2000, when I went to live in Rome for the first time.

My zest for my semester abroad and new life in Italy developed into the idea that I wanted to use up every moment I had there- not to waste a single breath being in such an incredible place, to try everything I could think of and fill up every day with new experiences.

This led to the idea of what I am naming, “the pocket project.” I would write down one new thing on a piece of paper and stick it in my pocket. The idea was that I had to complete that new thing by the end of the day before changing for bed and taking off my pants with the paper in the pocket. Mainly due to logistical reasons, this project didn’t last too long as is. But I retained that philosophy of trying new things at every chance I got. Even today, I routinely seek out something new to do or try, which, as I have pointed out in this blog, is part of living as if you are a tourist.

So true to this blog and true to this spirit of adventure, I have decided to resurrect the pocket project for my 31st year. I will not likely follow the original logistics of this idea as the stumbling blocks of pocketless clothing or rushed mornings would needlessly get in the way. Instead, I will just allow the day to unfold whatever the new opportunities, big or very small, might be, and I will ensure to complete one before going to bed.

I will have to work out how to incorporate this into the blog. I have rarely had daily internet access, and I can foresee some of my new things being dull to anyone other than me, e.g. trying a new type of soda counts, yet is not exceptionally exciting. So I will work that out as I go.

My hope is that, by putting the small day-to-day adventures in the foreground of my life, I am learning how to live as proof that each day is valuable, that each day is one for learning and that each day is a goal in it of itself and in the meantime, the big stuff will work itself out in the background.


does this look like a tango class to you?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Out of my mind: the gift of running

The most common constructive criticism that I tend to get is: “You think too much.” There has never been a more true statement. I am ALWAYS thinking.

Yet, I am no Socrates. I don’t often ruminate on scientific theories or mathematical calculations. My thoughts are not generally useful in nature and are not particularly enlightening to anyone but me (sometimes not even me). But I can’t stop the wheels from turning. My mind loves to create links between the past, present and potential future.

An innocuous song or inconspicuous sign for something as mundane toothpaste is enough to set off the spin, reminding me of running out of toothpaste in a past camping trip, which will remind me of my camp leader, which will make me wonder where he ended up, which will make me remember how he said the best years of life are the college years, which will make me think of my own college Emory, which will remind me how I loved being a student, which will make me revisit why I haven’t done a PHD yet, which will have me conclude that I have not found my “calling,” which will have me ponder whether there is such a thing as a “calling” or whether it is something we made up to make ourselves feel better about the time we wasted in “finding our calling,” which will lead me to wonder if a “calling” is perhaps just a nifty marketing technique for self-help books, continuing education classes and yoga, which will make me jump to the thought that I have yet to try yoga and I should pick up a gym schedule…

Exhausted? Me too. But my brain loves these spiraling patterns of thought. I don’t.

So I am often thrilled to find something that will get my brain to shut up. To date, I have only found two remedies. The first was sky diving. Of course, in the weeks between signing up for sky diving and the moment of the actual jump, my brain was feasting on this 7 course meal that I had just treated it to: potential death. Is there any topic more ripe for analysis?

However, in the 60 seconds between the edge of the plane’s door and the opening of the parachute, my free fall was total peace. I thought nothing, and it was bliss. Every item, thought, crumb, particle, atom of thought in my head cleared out as I plummeted. When I landed safely on the ground, I was addicted, but I think I was more addicted to this peace than to the endorphins that kick in when your body senses falling to its death.

Sky diving, however, is not a very practical cure. It is not something that can be done on a whim. It has way too many requirements- a plane, a runway, a clearing, an instructor, a (very important) parachute, a skydiving suit and, of course, an increasingly hefty sum of money.

So I am thankful that I came across the only other method of getting my mind clear: running. Unlike skydiving, running does not eliminate all my brain activity and erase my every thought. But it does something just as good- it organizes them. When I run, it is like the rhythm of my steps shakes out the bad from the good thoughts, the useless thoughts of toothpaste from the potentially more valuable thoughts of a PhD track. It pinpoints any anxiety, nervousness, or even just caffeine-jitteriness and strips them from other thoughts, transforming them into usable energy that fuels my run.

I used to despise running. I found it boring, difficult, boring, pointless, boring and, most annoyingly, a task usually required of you by an outside force: gym teachers, coaches, doctors or your average health-nut. I liked sports. I liked being active. I hated running.

My hate diminished a bit in college when the stress of studying usually required expending energy in some way other than ripping up a frustrating textbook. Running was often the best option because it was more convenient than finding teammates for a game of soccer or an opponent for a match of tennis. Convenience was, in fact, running’s biggest virtue in my mind, and it remained the only real reason behind my lackadaisical devotion to it until my first break-up.

All of a sudden the whirlwind of thoughts in my head required a more consistent and concrete channel out of my body. By happenstance, it was also during this period that I found myself as a spectator to the DC marathon. It dawned on me: I would do a marathon. What was a better cure than 4+ hours of continuous energy use? What else, if not running for the equivalent of half a work day, could focus my mind on something concrete and allow my days to be filled with thoughts on training rules, footwear, food intake, sleeping habits and hydration?

I figured I had more than enough thoughts to fuel my tank for this type of commitment, and right away, I signed up for a marathon training course (though I had barely ever done even a five mile run).

Of course, my thoughts alone weren’t quite enough to get me prepared for a marathon, and in reality it took 3 years of injury-healing-injury-healing periods before I would accomplish this feat. But in the meantime, I found a perfect way to get out of my head and let my body take the reins.

Chicago is a great running city. I feel a kinship with the oodles of runners who make use of the various trails. The Lakefront trail is my favorite, and I am grateful to the city planner who dedicated 18 miles of path to people who perhaps have the same neuroses as I. Perhaps the city planner himself was an over thinker-turned-jogger and the trails were an ingenious output of his obsessive thinking. Perhaps he too had suffered love’s loss and the Lakefront trail was where he would pound out his sadness. Perhaps the quiet sound of the lake’s waves and the comforting drone of the highway helped lull him into his run in the days before iPods. Or perhaps this is just me spinning my thought-wheels again and pointlessly analyzing something that could easily be found on Google… In that case, I guess it is time for a run.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Food: For more than Food's Sake

One of the best things about traveling is tasting the different types of food. As I have already mentioned, I am not a “foodie” in the classic sense of the word. I don’t know the top chefs. I don’t watch the Food Network. I don’t follow cooking blogs, and I don’t particularly care what the current trends in cooking are.

Experimentation and experience: that is my philosophy on food. This theory often makes my own cooking hit-or-miss and my baking a total disaster. However, I have more fun trying out something different than ending up with a delectable result. This is true whether at home or at a restaurant.

I often differ with friends and family members on this topic. Shockingly, it turns out that some people care more about what the food tastes like than about having an interesting experience. Hmm- makes sense in a way. It is certainly one way to look at it… But I don’t. Of course, when I go out to eat, I prefer that the food not be revolting, but if the setting is nice, the music is good and I am trying out something new, mediocre food is not a disappoint to me.







Lentils, Avocado and Tomatoes: lunch in Morocco

I remember clearly butting heads with a college friend on this point. He chose the restaurant based solely on the quality of food, and not even all of its food, only certain dishes. The restaurant could be (and usually was) solely white walls, bare tables, rickety chairs, the occasional potted plant and (I presume) a kitchen. He liked approximately 3 restaurants out of the 1,200 in Atlanta, and he would only eat select, pre-determined dishes at each of those three. We are exact opposites.

In contrast, I try every restaurant once, but I hesitate to return to one I have tried. Even less, if I make a return visit to a restaurant, I rarely order the same dish.








Vegetarian Sampler: Ethiopian Food in Chicago

Unlike many, I do not choose a restaurant based on ratings, stars or recommendations. I choose it on an interesting setting, innovative or foreign (to me) cuisine or any other aspect that might make dining there novel (live band, dancing waiters, flaming drinks… etc).

So, I often failed in convincing this friend to try any of “my” restaurants, and he in turn would have to drag me back to his. Even then, I would often go as a spectator instead of a participant in his dining choice- not being able to convince myself that it was worth spending money on a “boring” (i.e. already tried) meal.







Sri Lankan Food in NYC

Aside from the actual eating part which, I have said, is not top priority in my reasons to eat out, I see a restaurant as a type of living museum. Food holds so many clues into a type of culture. I love noticing the details of a place - the type of décor, the amount of décor, the music playing or lack thereof, how many waiters a place has, if the owner is there and if he/she is serving customers or supervising.

I like looking at the types of dishes, glasses and silverware- if there is too many of each kind or if you are expected, for example, to use one glass for all the liquids brought to the table. (Rome is famous for this).








Roman pizza with chicory, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and raisins

I love scrutinizing the menu- what trends there are in the dishes, if they are all beef, all chicken or all pork meals, if there are a lot of vegetarian options, or if “vegetarian” means side dishes with the meat plucked out.

I notice the types of vegetables that are most common on the menu and whether or not they are in season. I inspect the ingredients most often used in cooking- olive oil, peanut oil, butter or lard.

My favorite is the spices. I love studying the menu to see what spices stand out the most: basil in Rome, rosemary in Tuscany, pepper and garlic in the U.S., paprika in Romania, cumin in Egypt. I try to distinguish the over-powering smell as you first walk into a restaurant.

I love seeing what desserts are homemade and what after-dinner drinks are drunk like water.








Semi-freddo alla menta con ciocolatto

As you can see, I have also picked up the habit of photographing my food. I will admit that I acquired this from 3 of my Asian friends. Yet, I find it a fantastic habit. If restaurants are a living museum of a place’s culture, and food is one method of understanding that culture than it deserves being captured just as much as any marble statue would. Why photograph a carved piece of stone that will never change and not a spaghetti alle vongole or feuilles de vigne on your plate that can never be exactly replicated?

Food can be for pleasure. Food can be for fuel. Food can even be for thought, but food is also for experience. Try something new on the menu... even if you spit it out in your napkin.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Arrivederci

Photo Credit: John Devine
It is getting harder and harder to say. I suppose this betrays my traveler lifestyle; yet, though I have a gypsy soul, I don’t have a gypsy heart.

My heart doesn’t relocate as easily. Pieces of it get stuck in people I have met, cities I have lived in and apartments that I have made home.

I am not the quintessential gypsy who lives out of a suitcase, ready to leave at any minute. I don’t think of it as 4 walls that keep the rain out. Instead, with each new place, I assess my surroundings, rearrange it into something that fits me better, add a few little sticks, strings or other frills that reflect my personality and make my nest. If the nest gets knocked down, I make a new one. So, I haven’t accepted mobility and stopped trying to make some new dorm, apartment, house or condo feel like home. I just rebuild the nest in whatever tree I fly to.

And now I find myself once again in the familiar situation of gathering up all my things to pack and move elsewhere.

This used to be something I did with great ease. My suitcases may have been overloaded, overweight and ready to split the zippers open, but my mental state was orderly and ready to go. Now, my packing habits are perfected, neat and tidy, but my emotions are busting at the seams. I can’t say I blame them. I haven’t given them much of a break.

Since I was 18, I have moved from Baltimore to Atlanta (dorm 1) to Baltimore to Paris to Baltimore back to Atlanta (dorm 2) back to Baltimore back to Atlanta (apartment 1) to Baltimore to Rome (apartment 1) to Rome (apartment 2) to Baltimore to Atlanta (apartment 2) to Baltimore to Rome (apartment 3 and 4) to Leipzig to Frankfurt to Baltimore to Rome (apartments 5,6,7,8 and 9) to Baltimore to Chicago. That is 26 moves. And this is not just “packing up for a weekend trip” type moves- this is “pack up virtually every utilitarian item you own and the occasional non-essential, sentimental piece just to make the next place seem a little familiar” type.

26 substantial, life-defining moves in 12 years averages out to 2.16 moves per year since I was 18 years old. And this does not mention roommates. I have lived with 21 different people. Except for one of those (my very first roommate ever who was the textbook embodiment of the worst roommate imaginable), I have adored living with each and every one of these other 20 people. They were, and still are, my very good friends.

It cannot be denied though that it takes certain adjustments to living with new people- learning what rooms must desperately be kept clean, what NOT to eat from the refrigerator, who is ok with sharing coffee and who isn’t, who doesn’t drink coffee and hates the smell, who is ok with dishes in the sink and who will push you out the window because of it. There is definitely a period of adaptation necessary with any new roommate to work out the kinks of living together. I have had 21 periods of adaptation.

So when I start getting pangs in my chest at the thought of putting away my two favorite essential, non-essential items (frames and sheets), of having my knowledge of the metro system, the cute coffee house locations, the bubble tea shop and the grocery store with a stock of good spices, chic peas and espresso become futile … I cut myself a bit of a break. With 26 pieces missing, I am starting to feel the gaps in my heart.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Road Blocks

Stuff you might encounter driving in the Italian countryside.

Example 3: The slowpoke



A literal example of lagging behind. He belongs to the aforementioned herd.

Road Blocks

Stuff you might encounter driving in the Italian country side.

Example 2: a Herd

Road Blocks

I will call this series: Stuff you might encounter driving in the Italian countryside.

Example 1: A tractor crossing the road

Marketing schemes of a simpler age...



Out of curiosity, guys- is this effective?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Non-Traditional Traveler's Checklist



I have one other travel accessory that I have not yet mentioned. It is not the type of thing that you would find recommended in Travel & Leisure on packing checklists. It doesn’t come in a 3.0 ounce travel size bottle, and it doesn’t fit comfortably into a suitcase. In fact, most would recommend that you NOT make this a regular travel accessory. I am speaking about my cat: Matteo.

Moving around every other minute was not my original idea or intention when I adopted him 4 years ago. On the contrary, it was during a relatively calm period of my life when I thought that perhaps I would sit still for awhile. However, I was entering the exact opposite phase, which I take as proof that the Arab saying “Man plans, God laughs” was coined because of people like me.

Anyway, 9 months, 3 vaccinations, 1 microchip, a slew of medical papers and an airline-approved pet carrier later, we were on a flight to Rome- me and kitty. There are only a few airlines that will allow pets on board with you, and I am very thankful of those because the idea of sending a pet off to be handled the way I have seen bags handled (particularly at Fiumicino) makes me more than a little anxious.

However, even on these airlines, pet travel is far from easy. The pet requires a separate reservation. Only 3 pets can be in the cabin at one time; there is a pet-carrier weight limit, and the carrier must meet certain dimensions and manufacturing requirements.

My favorite (sarcastically favorite) part of the whole thing is going through the medical detector with him. He can’t ride through the x-ray machine any more than we could. So this means I have to remove him from the bag and carry him through with me. Matteo is not a small cat. He is not fat; he is however surprisingly long, which makes him look large. So taking big, freaked out Matteo out off his bag in a loud, noisy, bustling airport is not like slipping a laptop out of its case. He clings to the bottom of his carrier with all ten claws as if he is falling off a cliff, and I have to yank him out and hold him still through the detector. Seeing this long, frightened cat in the arms of a short, relatively small girl, I usually hear: “Ma non e un gatto. E un gattone!” Translation: “That’s not a cat; that’s a mega-cat!”

Aside from the airport trauma, (which I believe is becoming increasingly traumatic for humans and cats alike), Matteo handles the trip shockingly well. Barely any meows (none you can hear over the sound of the plane’s engine), no throwing up, no peeing, no panic attacks or any other behavior that would indicate that cats do not generally fly 9 hours across an ocean to a foreign country. Matteo is a natural.

Unlike pets traveling within the EU, Matteo does not need a passport, but if he did, he would have stamps from Italy, Germany, France, Canada and the U.S.A. Two of those were layovers, but he has also lived in Baltimore, Rome, Montreal (for a couple weeks) and Chicago.

I don’t know if he took on my personality traits when it comes to traveling, or if I managed to uncover a cat with a similar gypsy soul. Yet, whether or not he has an intrinsic desire to travel and despite the cumbersome (at best) hassles of travel logistics, Matteo is my favorite travel accessory. A hair dryer makes lousy company.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Bike with a Napoleon complex?


What exactly do you think the purpose of this “repair” was?

Introducing: Stop to Smell the Parking Meters: Observing Life's Oddities

Aside from my regular posts, I am introducing this little tangent: Stop to Smell the Parking Meters. Despite its name, it is not completely random. This ties back to my original idea for the blog: opening our eyes!

This side bar is dedicated to all the bizarre things we are missing by merely being an inhabitant, not a tourist, of our own city or country. So with my camera in hand, I have set out to observe the odd...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Reunion

I have a love-hate relationship with Ryan Air, but I will sheepishly admit that they tend to lure me in with their suspiciously low rates. This was the clincher in my decision to stop by Rome as an off-shoot from my trip to Ireland.

Because I wrote about dog pee, pushy ladies, and the general chaos of Rome in my last entry, today I shall sing its praises.

I am the quintessential perpetual tourist in this city. I never get sick of doing the same, touristy things over and over in Rome. Every time I go, I take pictures of the monuments, fully aware that they haven’t changed. I make a pilgrimage to the Vatican and a perfunctory nod at the coliseum. I stroll through Piazza Navona and wander the streets of Trastevere. I adore the Pantheon and will make a special effort to walk by it, no matter to what part of the city I am traveling.

Part of my awe comes from the colors of Rome. It always seems to me that Rome was made to pay homage to the sun. The colors and textures of the buildings soak in the sunshine and radiate it back out to the populace. Sunlight seems to be the exterior layer of the buildings themselves.

Rome wilts on its rainy days, almost uncomfortable and confused by being wet. On these days, you walk through its streets and there is something tangibly missing from the scenery. It is the sunlight. The usual warmth and body of the city falls away leaving Rome strangely flat and lifeless in the rain.

At night, Rome is even more enchanting. Knowing the building’s propensity, even longing, for sunshine, yellow lights take on the sun’s role during the evening. Just like with the sunshine, buildings seem to awaken and reflect this light back to its visitors making the city glow. Its bridges, domes, and fountains all splash back the golden yellow hue. Even the moon has to compete for attention against the beauty of a Roman evening.

Aside from the historical grandeur or religious significance, Rome’s little pleasures almost delight me more.

A caffe latte and una coppetta di ciocolatto fondente (gelato) is enough to make any trip to Rome worth it. With every bite I try to soak in Rome and to refine the taste of each one of these wonders so that the memory stays with me longer. Pizza Bianca, mozzarella di buffalo con basilico fresco, spremuta di arancia rossa (blood oranges), una pizza con funghi porcini… it ruins you for anything else you could eat in your lifetime. And this comes from someone who is not especially interested in food. Anyone can tell you, I am not generally a foodie or food enthusiast. Except, it appears, in Italy.

For the blog’s sake, I’d like to tell of the crazy adventures I had during my week there, but it wasn’t adventure I was seeking this time. This trip to Rome was like reuniting with a past love; it was just nice to be in its presence again, even if you know it’s not going to last.

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