I got back from Italy late last week. Yes, Italy.
I went to see my sister. Well, and Italy too. She's been in Florence since June, studying Italian, traveling around Europe, and working on her internship. So yeah, I'm jealous.
In any case, I made the trip with my parents. The brother had to miss the trip because of his classes.
Needless to say, the trip was a complete blast. Jet lag wasn't too bad, either. We stayed with my sister in Florence, and made day trips to Pisa by train, and Siena by bus. Public transportation is really good out there.
There is a lot that can be said about the trip, but there were of course, a few things that stuck out the most in my mind.
The transportation works much better out there. Trains go almost everywhere, and aren't expensive, even with the rate of currency exchange (ouch - the dollar is not well).
Tons of people get around by just bicycle, motorcycle, or just walking. And the people who do drive do not feel the need for the 3-ton, 20 mpg beasts that so many Americans like to drive. Minis and Smart cars were everywhere!
The food was just to kill for. The restaurant food was good, and of course the pizza was great. But the real treats weren't in the restaurants, they were in the grocery stores. Everything was fresh, very tasty, very not canned, very not preserved, and had obviously not been sitting on the shelves for weeks. Bread for breakfast was bought fresh daily from the bakery on the corner, and when I split it open, it was still warm from the oven.
Needless to say, the architecture was just mind-boggling. Old, elaborately decorated churches, bridges and buildings everywhere you turn. And not New York style old, where something from the 1800s is old and anything older is just a relic. These are buildings, churches and sculptures that have been around since the middle ages.
So yeah, I absolutely LOVED Italy. Didn't get to spend nearly as much time there as I would have liked, and I DEFINITELY want to go back.