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Balabanova All Over

Monthly Archives: September 2015

[Vienna, Austria] I had murky memories of Vienna from a high school trip in 1995. It was late December, and the city was decorated to the nines for the holidays. I remember the Christmas market in front of city hall; the main cathedral, Stephansdom; Schönbrunn with its gardens; and an evening outing on the metro during which I’m amazed we didn’t get lost – we were only 15, after all, and this… Read More

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[Venice, Italy] Built 1500 years ago as an escape from the barbarians after Rome fell, Venice became a medieval powerhouse when clever middlemen turned it into a trading empire between East and West. Venice was a uniquely diverse city at the time, welcoming every race and religion, as long as they carried cash. The discovery of the Americas and new trade routes spelled trouble for Venice, but as the city declined, it became… Read More

[Pisa, Italy] I remember seeing pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I was growing up, and thought it’d be so fascinating to see this leaning building up close. Today, I got my wish. Pisa is an easy 75-minute train ride away from Florence. The only hard part for me was finding my train, which was not clearly marked! I ran around a bit and got really vague directions from train… Read More

[Monterosso, Italy] Today’s entry will be very short – I’ll let the views do all the talking. The Cinque Terre (meaning the Five Lands) is a remote section of the Italian Riviera. There isn’t a museum or a Vespa in sight – just sunshine, sea, beach (pebbles, not sand, but still) and wine. The five villages comprising the Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso Al Mare. They are all… Read More

[Florence, Italy] Today was my last full day in Florence –  I am staying here through Tuesday of next week, but I am taking side trips for the rest of my stay here. I checked out the last few attractions I had not been to but I also did a couple of things today that were distinctly Florentine – and those were much more enjoyable; may I even say, divine. I first… Read More

[Florence, Italy] I fit in a lot more than I thought I would today, even by my standards, and that says a lot! I am looking forward to a more relaxing Friday in Firenze ahead of a couple of side trips Sarah and I are taking this weekend. At 8:30 am, I left the house and stopped in for a coffee at a place just a couple of corners away called Caffe… Read More

[Florence, Italy] Today is not my day to ride on buses. I got on the wrong one going from my AirBnB in Rome to the train station – luckily I realized it in time. And in Florence, I got on the right bus but missed my stop. Luckily, stops here are close together so neither one of these were too big of a faux pas, but it’s still pretty stressful! I caught the express… Read More

[Rome, Italy] Besides going to Galleria Borghese, I had no grand plans for today. There were many other things I wanted to see but I wasn’t sure how much energy or enthusiasm I’d have, nor where the day would take me after the gallery, so I played it by ear and it couldn’t have turned out any better! For a planner like myself, it was nice to have a less structured day…. Read More

[Vatican City, Italy] No visit to Rome is complete without a visit to the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. If you have only one day in Rome and have to pick between this and the Coliseum/Forum, I’d pick this (although with some planning, they are both doable in one long, exhausting day). To get to the Vatican, I took Bus 64 across the Tiber river. It was about… Read More

[Rome, Italy] Arriving in Rome was a breeze. I set off from LA on an early flight to Washington, DC, where I connected on a direct flight to Rome. I slept for the majority of the second flight and when I landed in Rome at 8:30 in the morning local time, I was ready to go! My Bulgarian passport gave me access to the EU customs line, which is not actually a… Read More