It’s been quite a while since my last post, but I’ll make up for it by writing three new posts this weekend for you to read.
I left Rome in mid-December and spent the holidays with family back in Chicago. My last couple of months in Italy were packed with adventure and a lot of fun!
I had kind of a spur of the moment weekend trip to Budapest, Hungary with a great group of friends. We rented an apartment near the city center had a long weekend filled with new experiences.
On our first day we visited the Great Market Hall where we had some delicious local food and picked up plenty of souvenirs.
The next day we went for a dip in the famous Szechenyi Baths. Being a swimmer, I’ve swum in plenty of beautiful pools, but none have come close to the physical beauty of these baths! The palatial facilities featured indoor and outdoor pools that were very warm.
That night we took a dinner cruise on the Danube and enjoyed seeing the city all lit up at night as we floated by sipping champagne
Budapest was a very beautiful city and had a look and feel that resembled what I had always envisioned Europe to be like. The classical architecture, quaint streets, grand bridges over the Danube River, and the unique food and still very vivid in my memory.
My last trip was with three close friends to Morocco. We flew from Rome to Fes, and spent our first two nights at a bed and breakfast in the middle of the city’s largest medina (an ancient walled city), the Fes el Bali. Our taxi from the airport took us to one of the gates of the medina, and as soon as we entered, we experienced sensory overload! The narrow streets were filled with life, noise, and smells as we made our way through the crowds of people, donkeys, chicken, dogs and cats!
We were greeted at our bed and breakfast with the local drink specialty, hot mint tea. We spent one afternoon on a guided tour of the medina, which included a stop at what we were told is the oldest leather tannery in Morocco.
The next day we took a train to Casablanca, which is on the Atlantic. Casablanca is known for being more modern than Fes and we saw many modern high rises and the colossal Hassan II Mosque. We found out that during certain times of the day tours of the mosque were available, so we jumped at the opportunity since ordinarily only Muslims are allowed inside mosques. The mosque was a little over 20 years old and cost over $500 million to build, which is a huge amount for a relatively poor country with a GDP of around $5,000 per capita.
During Thanksgiving, my Mom, Dad and younger sister made it to Rome for a week-long visit. We had a really memorable visit and stayed in a perfect apartment a few blocks away from Vatican City. We enjoyed our time together as a family, but I particularly enjoyed the one-on-one time I got to spend with each of them.
Also, the Rome portion of my Ricci project ended on a high note as I was able to do 10 interviews with Italians families and a lot of secondary research that really grew my understanding of contemporary Italian families and general life in Italy.
It was sad leaving Rome and saying goodbye to the new friends I had made during the semester, but I was glad to return stateside for a break before embarking on my next adventure to China!