Italia Trip!

Been seriously slacking on this whole blog thing, I’ll work on posting more frequently from here on out. I hope everyone enjoyed Mike’s video that I had a link for in my last post. If you missed it, i attached it once more below.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150100268972267

A lot has happened since my last post, so I’ll try and condense it so everyone can catch up on our adventures.

After our amigas from Barcelona came to town, all of us went on a wild, delicious 6-day trip to Bari and Naples in Italia! We arrived in Bari late at night around 9 or 10 at the airport. We had managed to forget to write down the directions to the hostel, so after a completely body language based conversation with the information desk lady, i managed to get directions and we found a cab to take us over to our hostel. The cab driver was flying down the road, running red lights, etc. and we got him to bump some Euro techno stuff which made for an exciting/interesting drive and start to the trip.

We met up with our Hostel owner, Francesco, who was the man and he let us into the hostel. It was my first experience in a hostel, and boy did we pick the right one. It was basically a huge apartment, and we had two big rooms to split between the 5 of us, which was great. After getting settled in, we were all starving and decided to check out the pizza place we had seen on the street our hostel was located on.

It turned out to be a great decision! The pizza place happened to be one of the best in all of Bari, and we had an awesome waiter from Albania, Rase (Rhymes with lazy) who spoke perfect English, which was a pleasant surprise. Fortunately, that surprise paled in comparison to the looks on our faces after having tasted the first bite of the deliciousness that was Italian pizza at Enzo’s restaurant! We all proceeded to devour our individual pizzas in a matter with some glasses of house wine to complement the meal and were all in a great mood.

Pounding some pizza

Our new waiter buddy Rase had thoroughly enjoyed our company, and offered to show us around the city after he had gotten off of work, an offer we gladly accepted.

Ollie and Sean with our awesome waiter Rase!

That night, Bari was a ghost town. It is not a very big town, and is mainly known for being a cheap, effective method of transportation to Greece, Croatia or other nearby islands. Nonetheless, we all had a great time. Rase gave us a tour of the more popular areas in the city, and we had a great nighttime view of the Adriatic Sea.

Bari at night

After some solid conversations, and stopping at the two open bars in the city that Thursday night, we all headed back to our hostel and called it a night.

Day Two

The next day, we woke up and started figuring out how we wanted to spend our last day in Bari. Our hostel owner, Francesco, had invited us over to have lunch at his house so we decided to head over there and grab a bite. Francesco is the nicest man, and we are all so glad we decided to go grab lunch with him. He met up with us and took us to this amazing Italian market, where there were tons of fresh vegetables, meat, and much more. After he bought all the fresh ingredients for lunch, we headed back to his place.

Marketplace!

Tried some raw meat here…was much better cooked haha

We were greeted at the door by the most adorable, giant dog named Oxygen (Ox for short) and all took a seat in Francesco’s cozy apartments living room.

Petting Ox in Francesco’s home!

He was one of the most gracious hosts I’ve ever met, and proceeded to provide us with copious amounts of vino, freshly cooked ham and sausages, and ordered us something like 5 boxes of delicious pizza.

Best Delivery Pizza of all time, and it was only 3 euros a box!

Preparing the meal

After devouring all of that, we had even more food to get ready for, as he had made us all delicious Italian pasta. After enjoying our meals and some solid conversation with Francesco, we headed on out to explore the rest of Bari.

Chowing down on some pasta

All of us with Francesco!

We walked all around the old town, and checked out tons of cathedrals that happen to be littered all over Italy. The Adriatic sea was beautiful, and overall we all had a really fun day.

Old Town

Naturally, we had some more delicious pizza for dinner. It was awesome watching them make the pizzas, as they actually use brick ovens to cook them which is what gives the pizza such a great taste. Afterwards, we all bought giant cones of Gelato. We also stopped at this super Italian/euro clothing store called imperial, and i decided to buy some absolutely ridiculous shirts that make a guest appearance in Mike’s video haha

Cooking the Pizza

Soo many flavors

Mike with his giant gelato

After dinner, some of the other people living in our hostel informed us that there was a free opera going on in the city so we decided to check it out. I had never been to an opera before so didn’t know what to expect really, but came out quite impressed. the theatre we went to was extremely nice, and we heard some crazy vocal ranges from both males and females. The most interesting part was that the singer changed every song, so we had the opportunity to listen to a bunch of different voices and songs. They all sang with a bunch of emotion, and although i don’t speak a lick of Italian it seemed that they were all telling stories of tragedies.

Entering the Opera

Opera

We had a bus to catch early in the morning so we all passed out relatively early.

Day Three

Next day, we woke up real early and after a few minutes of searching for the bus station, we hopped on a bus to head over to Naples. The bus was surprisingly nice, and the 3 hour ride to the city was rather pleasant. We arrived at Naples around Noon, and were excited to begin exploring the big bustling city, that was a stark contrast from the rather small and quiet sea town of Bari. We took a cab ride over to our hostel, named Giovanni’s Home and headed on in.

The boys with Giovanni!

Giovanni is one of the funniest, friendliest, and goofy people I’ve ever met and we were all delighted to have chosen a second fantastic hostel to stay at. This hostel was much more what you would expect in terms of a traditional hostel, with something like 24 people or so sleeping there at night. Giovanni brought out a map, and gave us a full description of the city and color-coded the map indicating the different places that we had to check out in Napoli.

After unloading our bags, we set out to begin exploring the city. Giovanni had told us about this fantastic pizza place right around the corner, known as Gino’s, which is where the calzone had been invented! It was also proclaimed to be the best pizza in the world, and they weren’t kidding as there was a 30 minute or so wait for lunch, and it was definitely worth it as the pizza was amazing!

Where pizza was born!

At Gino’s!

Singing Dudes

After devouring our whole pies each, listening to some live performances and finishing up some tasty beers we ventured off to see more of the city.

Giovanni had created a trail for us to walk along in order to see most of the city, and we followed his directions and had a fabulous day taking in the sights and sounds of Italia. Here are some pictures of the city!

Kings of the castle

Galleria

Amazing

Met an awesome African dude who sold Nick a Bow and arrow for 10 euros!

As the night started to approach, and the temperatures began to drop we headed back to the hostel. While hanging out at the hostel, we met some awesome girls who are studying abroad in Paris and ending spending pretty much the rest of the trip with them! We decided to head back to Gino’s pizzeria for dinner with two of our new Paris friends, Trixie and Laura. Once more, there was another long wait at Gino’s so we decided to pass the time by meeting some extremely friendly Italians and drinking some wine.

Waiting outside of Gino’s for dinner

With some random new italian friends

After a good amount of time had passed, I went back inside to check on our reservation. While I was at the host desk waiting to speak with her, the strangest of things happened as one of the chefs ran out of the kitchen and pulled me into the kitchen with him and all his other chef buddies. Next thing I know, I’m getting a full tour of the kitchen, and taking pictures and making friends with the chefs of the best pizza restaurant in the world…wait, whatt?!

Dough on her face haha

They showed us how they make the pizzas!

This guy was the man!

It was so random but incredible. I couldn’t believe what was happening, so I ran outside and grabbed trixie and Laura to come enjoy the moment with me. Eventually, we somehow ended up in the back of the restaurant outside singing and dancing with the chefs in what had to be one of the most memorable moments of my life! There is a great video of it that Trixie took which is in Mike’s video if you want to take a look.

The dinner, which ensued was just as memorable, as we all had more amazing pizza and tons of fun. We got real American with it and somehow ended up playing flip cup in the middle of the restaurant, which must have been quite a site to see for the Italians all around haha.

Heading back home

We had a rather interesting and memorable walk back home from the restaurant that I will never forget. After taking some twists and turns, we eventually managed to make it back to the hostel and finally laid our exhausted heads to rest.

Day Four

After our interesting and exhausting evening the night before, we all woke up bright and early to go explore Mount Vesuvius and the ruins at Pompeii and Herculean! We hopped on the metro to get to the train station, which we were taking to get over to Herculean first.

On the train!

We decided to check out Herculean more than Pompeii because the buildings are all in much better shape and there is much more to see than in Pompeii, where we had heard it was mainly just ruins.

Herculean!

Herculean was amazing, and we all had a fabulous time exploring the ruins! The best and most fun part of our trip to Herculean was probably the making of the Mario video. Our new bud Trixie brilliantly decided that since we were in Italy, naturally we had to make a re-creation of the Mario video game! We made quite a scene as we were climbing all over buildings, jumping on stuff, and popping out of places left and right. The completed Mario video is in Mikes movie of our trip, so check it out!

Chillin on some ancient ruins

The gang!

Jumping all over the world

After checking out Herculean, we hopped into a bus which took us up the mountain towards the famous volcano, Mount Vesuvius! Once we arrived there, we paid for our tickets and began walking up an incredibly long, slippery and steep hill to reach the top of the mountain. Took a while to get there, but it was well worth the hike up as the views from the top of the mountain were absolutely breath taking and spectacular! It was crazy to think that the mountain we were on top of was an active volcano that had erupted less than a century ago in 1944. We spent some time climbing random rocks and absorbing the moment before heading back down the mountain. I grabbed a volcanic rock as a souvenir, and we hopped back into the van that had been awaiting us.

Climbing Mount Vesuvius!

On top of the mountain!

Mount Vesuvius!

We arrived back at the train station, and went a few stops down to briefly check out Pompeii! At this point, we were all pretty exhausted and decided not to actually enter Pompeii, but we saw it from outside which was still a very cool site to see.

After our fun day of exploring we finally made it back to the hostel in time for dinner. Giovanni had decided to make dinner for the entire hostel, and cooked up a giant pot of delicious pasta for 24 people! On top of the delicious meal, Giovanni, being the character he is decided to pull out his guitar and play us some popular American tunes, along with some classic Italian songs. It was lots of fun because he played a bunch of songs we all knew, and was very interactive, so within minutes he had us all singing and playing along with his somewhat silly and ridiculous videos.

Giovanni jamming

He decided to take a break, and we got sean to jump in and he belted out killer versions of The King of Spain by The tallest man on Earth and Use Somebody by Kings of Leon, which was a lot of fun as well.

The King of Spain

We all hung out in the common room for a while and thoroughly enjoyed our last night in Napoli.

Day 5

The next morning, we had all of our bags packed up and ready to go but still had some time before our 5pm bus back to Bari. We went to check out the aqueducts in the city on a guided tour, and I’m so glad we did! The aqueducts were amazing, and we walked through these crazy thin pathways where you were basically side-stepping through two giant walls. We saw some amazing underground baths as well, and was a wonderful experience in all.

Super narrow paths

After the aqueducts, we grabbed our bags and said goodbye to our lovely host Giovanni, and our awesome new friends from Paris, and then headed on our way back to Bari.

We reached Bari at around 8pm, and we stayed at our buddy Francesco’s hostel once more. For dinner, we grabbed individual pizzas once more at this nice place, and then called it a night. If you hadn’t noticed, during our trip, we ate lots and lots and lots of pizza. Between the 5 of us we ate something like 42.5 pizzas, and I’m sure we would have kept eating more if we had stayed any longer.

Day 6

We woke up, packed all of our bags up and headed off to meet up with Francesco. Our extremely gracious host had offered to get us breakfast, and we had fantastic jelly filled croissants and European coffee, which was the perfect ending to a great trip.

All in all, was a fantastic trip that I will never ever forget! We met lots of great new people, had amazing food, and saw some amazing sights.

Over 2 full months have already passed since I left the US. Although it seems like the time has been flying by, when I look back on the last couple months I can’t believe how many incredible things I have experienced and seen, and all of the wonderful people and memories I have encountered in such a short period of time. It’s really scary and sad to think that we only have a couple months left of this fairy tale life we have been living, but with the same token we still have two months of this unreal alternate reality that study abroad has been.

We’re traveling a great deal in the coming months, and I can’t wait for what lies ahead! I hope everyone is doing great back home, Iove and miss you all!

Cheers,

-Sahil

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