Sunday, November 22, 2009


little did we know where this sign would take us


a visit from the sun

our tour/life guide, gino

one of many wine cellars

a peak at our samplings

our samplings

castello di verrazzano's kitchen made two veggie eaters very happy

willa's surprise weekend getaway? le grotte de frasassi, world famous caverns!

my first stalagmites!

my first stalactites!

grotta grande del vento which can apparently hold the milan cathedral

my little spelunker

absolutely unreal

i thought this passageway was a joke at first...not a joke.

they refer to this one as an organ


the happier i am, the more asian i look. i'm really happy here.

couldn't dream it

vittorio, who renamed us vilma and sylvia

all natural

trying to do it justice

vittorio hosing down my boots

like two bats in a cave

memories in real-time

It goes without saying that my studies abroad have really been a compilation of less-than-textbook ventures, resembling more of a playfully rampant series of vacations with the apple of my eye, Willa. One of our latest trips found us in the Chianti region for my first wine tour at the charming Castello di Verrazzano winery. In the presence of good company, food, and a warmly lit hearth, we managed to savor much more beyond our emptied glasses. Continuing the weekend's sparkle, Willa schemed a surprise adventure for Saturday, having me meet her in the deserted town of Genga, a five hour train away, with no further instruction. Once again, my mischievous little scamp worked her magic and granted me a wish only she would be wondrous enough to materialize. We explored Le Grotte di Frasassi, a wildly ravishing system of caves, littered with whimsical limestone formations, tunnels, endless twists and turns, and giant stone ballrooms with ceilings ever-reaching towards the unreachable surface. And for a moment there, inside, sitting amongst the boulders, draped in an immensity of unthinkable blackness, with the echoed whisper of trickling water serving as the only remnant of sound, I smiled one of the most earnest and unrestrained smiles I have ever had. Thank you, Vilma :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


boboli gardens, big and small

not so secret garden

pitti palace knows no end


on to our side of the river

i used to be afraid of carousels

getting crafty...for kimee and sierra

san lorenzo market: a plethora of plethoras

a few euro = a bag of organic happiness

i don't know what a few euro can buy you here, but the picture was free. enjoy, carnivorous loved ones.

the market also provides a vast selection of fallopian tubes of cows.

my sweet people, i present to you, our domain (i use that term loosely)

a view of the entrance from the sitting room, where we do little sitting.

hung out to dry

self-guided tour of the house because we were only introduced to our bedroom. we found her secret...bathroom?

where we eat

where we eat...things besides pasta (at the girls' lovely apartment)

mago merlino tea house: trance music and palm readings available daily

for sipping and lounging

acqua al due (also located in san diego!) with lovelies mona, alman, and martha

As our multination travels begin to simmer down with the wicked glare of winter's creeping arrival, I've managed to spend more time wiggling through the criss-crossings of Florence, reintroducing myself to the city who has so kindly hosted me for the last few months. I've come across a few strands of rigid routine in our days spent here but must be honest in saying that even our mere abode remains an unchartered territory. Yet, with the flicker of exploration still burning true, we've taken it upon ourselves to open doors, peek around, and savor the flavors of things unseen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

wanton wishes

fall holiday, stop no. 4: amsterdam, netherlands

deceivingly charming

the flying pig hostel

calm before the storm

planetarium dome theatre, one of the best ideas

ma, da, and tyrannosaurus rex

our hostel's grandma's room

halloween evening with laura and ashley

sally the great

presenting homemade winners, sally and jack skellington

My travel experiences may have just blossomed, but I have a feeling that there are not many places quite like Amsterdam. In its touristic hub, streets were littered with stores beckoning at the wide-eyed stream of youths looking to get their predictable indulgent needs satiated--and I mean all needs. The constant hum of debauchery carried on through our fall holiday's remaining hours as we basked in slow strolls through the planetarium, zoo, and aquarium, delighted in the array of international dining options and sweets to follow, encountered the unreal Red Light district and its unique window displays, and bobbed and weaved to the roar of techno music on All Hallows Eve as the resurrected couple from Disney's classic Nightmare Before Christmas. I'd say it was a successful ten days.