Posts Tagged ‘markets’


Anna: Home sweet home, Firenze

March 20, 2011

On Thursday of this week it was Italy’s 150th Unification Celebration! So if you were Italian, you wouldn’t have to go to school or work that day. All of the festivities happened on Wednesday night. There was a band playing at Santa Croce, and then fireworks were set off on top of Palazzo Vecchio (old Medici Palace). There was Italian flags EVERYWHERE. Even the Ponte Vecchio had the light outline of the Italian flag on it. My adorable old man landlord left us a note saying “I hope you don’t mind I put a Italian flag outside of your apartment balcony. I like being Italian.” It was a fun and proud moment for me to be able to say I am Italian!

Later that night I had the opportunity to attend the birthday party of my friend Natalie’s homestay brother, Pietro, who was turning 18. We walked in and the bartender looked at us and knew we were all 20 + years old. It was really hilarious to see these boys get excited American girls were there. Our main lines for the night were “Sono vecchia.” I am old and “Io ho venti anni, tu hai deicisette anni.” I am twenty, you are seventeen. Regardless it was really interesting to be around Italians and not Americans for once.

This past week it had been overcast and rainy. But I woke up Friday morning and it was beautiful out! Since I don’t have class on Friday, my friend Ellen and I decided to roam the city center and also go to the Boboli Gardens. The Boboli Gardens were huge and really beautiful. Whenever I walk through all the historical sites around the city I am so amazed they are the same rooms and gardens people lived in hundreds of years ago! We also were able to see a costume gallery inside Palazzo Pitti. That was fascinating to guess what year the garments were made.

We had made plans to go to the market and then make dinner together that night since I had my whole apartment to myself this weekend. The market is my new favorite place to shop. Everything is fresh and affordable, especially for cooking for one or two. We ended up buying pear and pecorino ravioli, french bread, garlic and parsley chicken meatballs, fresh tomatoes, squash, asparagus, and for dessert a chocolate raspberry torte brownie. It ended up being really delicious. We enjoyed dinner with my bottle of Chianti Classico I bought from a vineyard visit a few weeks back. As Ellen says we are both foodies and that is probably why we get along so well. Being here in Italy has really made me want to try new things and experiment with my cooking skills more. I am looking into taking a cooking class the last few weeks of the semester, hopefully.

Yesterday was Saturday and I went to Fiesole, a town full of hills and villas. Also, part of my reasoning for making a trip to Fiesole is that I have heard that is where all the soccer players live. It ended up being a very overcast day, but it didn’t rain on us which is all we cared about. We hiked through the woods and it was really fun, we didn’t feel like we were in Italy it felt like we were back home in Minnesota!

Overall, I had a really great week. It is scary to count forward because I only have 4 weekends counting next weekend left of my program. It will be bittersweet for me because I miss my family and friends so much at home, but I have become sentimental about Florence. I love it so much here! I know at home when I order a caffe I won’t be receiving an espresso for 1 euro but a cup of gross American coffee for 3 dollars. I won’t be able to walk anywhere, or buy fresh mozzarella for 40 euro cents, or have free passes to see museums. But at the same time, I am fortunate enough to have studied abroad, for many people are not able to. At the end my parents are visiting and we will be going to see my family around Italy.  I am also going to Prague with a high school friend, Elizabeth Mountain who is studying at Gonzaga in Florence.

I also got great news that Lady Gaga and possibly other artists will be giving a free concert on April 20th just a couple days before my program is over at Santa Croce! Very excited for that.


Andrea: Borough Market & Portobello Road

February 3, 2011
Much of this past weekend was spent strolling with some flatmates through two of the most well known markets in London: Borough Market and Portobello Road. Borough Market, according to it’s website, is “London’s most renowned food market; a source of exceptional British and international produce.” And it is the only place (so far) where I have found corn tortillas and other authentic Mexican ingredients! I’m feeling a taco night coming up soon… Anyway, here are a few of the things I saw and ate:
Cinnamon cookies with elephant designs. I took one to go 🙂
I got myself a raspberry tart. It was pretty amazing.
Portobello Road is home of the world’s largest antiques market. There are dealers all over the street selling old books, jewelry, bags, and lots of other things. Before going there, I thought it would be a lot like a scene from the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Minus the singing and dancing, it was pretty similar! Here’s a bit of what I really saw:


HUGE pans of paella made in the street
Cheap scarves were everywhere. I loved it.
This guy is apparently well known on Portobello Road. A lot of shop keepers were speaking to him as if they’d known him for a long time. I guess he just walks around with his dog on his shoulder and lets tourists take pictures of him.

Jim: Saturday Walkabout

June 23, 2010

Last Saturday I took a walk up to the top end of town (long walk). I had been hearing for a couple weeks that there was an artisan fair on some road just a little way past the bullfight arena & was curious so decided to take a look. I did take the trolley the first third or so, but the line has not been completed yet. Very convenient that what is done is running though, & the price is great (free).

At first it might look like a much bigger difference in the standards of living from one part of town to another, but if you really think about it that may not be the case. You can see houses here that would probably fall somewhere into an upper-middle class range in Mn, and you can see houses that seem to be a bit below any standards of living in our area. However, I have not seen any homeless here at all. I’ve asked & have heard that there are some here, but very few compared to large cities in the States.

The markets are also very interesting. The actual art fair that I was heading toward was rained out shortly before I got there. A few vendors were still there, you can see some of them selling paintings or puppies (?!). Since coming here, I have  seen quite a few open fruit vendors, but the pics above were taken where an entire street was closed for several blocks for herb, vegetable & fruit stands. Smelled great!



Heather: classes & preparing for Mombasa

February 27, 2010

Life here in Nairobi has been pretty laid back for the past couple days. It was rather depressing going back to school on Tuesday because Uganda was so much fun and it was a real vacation. No one wanted to go back. We’ve only been having 2 classes a day recently instead of 3. We were told this was to give us time to write our papers that they’re loading on us. I just got another 5 page paper today, due on Tuesday. Ugh.

Classes are going well. They’re pretty easy for the most part. Kiswahili is going well…we have a scavenger hunt around downtown on Monday, so that will be nice to be able to get out of the classroom for a couple hours. In Development we’re just talking about Post Independence development plans and how to improve the country. It’s very repetitive so it’s easy to fall asleep. In Country Analysis we’re discussing the challenges that Kenya faced with a new constitution and the expectations of the new constitution. This professor is pretty legit so it makes class fun. In my environment class we’re talking about agricultural chemicals and soil erosion, stuff like that. I actually enjoy this class, it’s interesting.

We don’t have classes tomorrow so a couple of us are going to go downtown to go to the UN buildings and get some research done for our papers. I hope I can finish my first one by Sunday; I am on track so I think this might be doable. On Saturday my friend Mia and I are going to head downtown to go to the Maasai market. Irene is going to come with us to tell us what the price of things should be so we don’t get ripped off like we normally would. I am mastering my bargaining skills some more. I went to Adam’s market the other day and bought a shirt for Ksh150. However, I was at the end of the street before he actually came up to me and handed it to me and told me I could have it for Ksh150.

I got my information for my Mombasa family yesterday. My mom is a social worker, not sure what my dad does though. I have 4 siblings-25, 19, 16, 13. Pretty good ages. I will be sharing a room again, but that’s ok. But apparently we live very near to a great beach. So we all know where I’ll be after work every day! Getting excited! I am confident that my family here in Nairobi is going to miss me when I’m gone, but then again I might be too much for them.

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