Alyssa Mia !

Dreamy Venice

( Day 25 - 06.27.14 - Ponte di Rialto, Venice, Italy )

A Whole New World

( Day 24 - 06.27.14 - Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy )

Welcome to Venice

( Day 24 - 06.27.14 - Venice, Italy )

Not gonna lie, it was very hard for us to leave Paris. Just when beginning to get the gist of the French language and culture, we leave for Italy once more. But to be honest, when we landed in Venice Marco Polo Airport, I was pleasantly surprised how relieved James and I both felt to be back in Italy. Somehow, we feel like we are more connected to the people here— everyone is friendlier and more hospitable. Also, we realized that we spoke way more Italian than we thought we knew. After trying and trying and trying to fluently communicate in France, it was relieving to be able to completely understand and connect on a deeper level with the Italians. 

I was beginning to feel weary and drained from the constant plane and train rides but as soon as we saw Venice, all that exhaustion flew out the window. I smelled the familiar scent of the sea, and I was instantly rejuvenated. Venice was much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined it in my mind. The only means of transportation was by these water buses called vaporettos and the smaller gondola-like boats called traghettos. Just a ride among any vaporetto and traghetto was already a delight in itself. From the boat you can see sleepy Venice, adorned with beautiful bridges and wonderful architecture. For more than once, I had to ask James to pinch me, because I was just so sure that I am dreaming. Somehow, I was magically transported to the dreamy scenes in the movies — The Tourist to be more specific. Yes, I was channeling my inner Angelina Jolie, only without the gorgeous luscious lips and the allure.

 ”It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the feeling of a city like Venice, where everything is just beautiful color and gorgeous buildings that are so peaceful. You can roam around and get lost in the labyrinth.  All day long, we strolled around the main Island,  wondering why the crowds we were expecting were not there. It turns out, they were all packed in Piazza San Marco, where most of the main attractions lie. By the time we found the Piazza, it was already past sunset, but that is another whole story.

Sei pur bella, Venezia, in mezzo all’onde.
Specchio tranquillo ai monumenti alteri!

Alyssa Mia

Au Revoir, Paris! Je’taime but Venice, Italy is calling my name! #80daysineurope #paris #france #backtoitalia

"That One Only Time We Ate Escargot”

( Day 22 - 06.25.14 - Cafe De la Paix, Paris )

If there’s one thing France is known for – apart from the Eiffel tower and piano accordions – it’s the food. Baguettes and croissants are mandatory in any French caricature. Wine and cheese are a national pastime. Here in Paris, eating at a French restaurant is guaranteed to be a fancy (and expensive) experience.

A couple of weeks ago, We bid our friends and family goodbye and headed to France. There was an expectation that we would (among other things) engorge ourselves on the variety of foods the country had to offer and report back on our progress.

We went out as often as we could to explore the wonderful world of French gourmandise. We tried coq au vin, ratatouille, croissants, pain au chocolat, crêpes, macaroons, baguettes. As promised, we called our friends to let them know what they were missing out on.

“That’s great,” my best friend cut me off during a long, detailed description of exactly how good the chicken sandwiches at the nearby boulangerie were. “But how’re the snails?”

We’d had this discussion before I left. She’d asked me to try them. I’d very emphatically told her I wouldn’t. Apparently she thought I’d been joking. Every time someone brought the topic up, I’d have to sit through anecdote after anecdote about weird food experiences. Usually along the lines of someone going to Asia and eating fried cockroaches on a stick (yes, that’s a thing). But nothing has ever truly compelled me to eat snails.

In my defence, I did seriously consider the idea for about twenty minutes. I went to the Internet to find out what I could about the dish and the preparation methods.

First, snails need to be purged, otherwise they’re not safe to eat. Snails are starved for just under a week, during which they’re gently washed to help make them clear out their intestines. Then they are either salted (you can throw the salt on them or put them in a container full of salt, it’s up to you) or boiled in salted water. This makes them disgorge themselves, which means you’ll see them release a murky sort of foam. When they stop releasing it, you’re good to go.

After a heated debate about the idea, James and I decided that when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Shouldn’t the same rule apply to France as well? Some research in TripAdvisor later, we decided to go to Cafe De la Paix, which serves their escargot the traditional way, with butter and garlic stuffed with some vegetables. When the moment of truth finally arrived, we got more than we bargained for. It was disgusting. The texture was all wrong— just. WRONG. — and it took all of my willpower to not spit it out.

It’s not that I have anything against eating escargot as a concept. If you like them, well, more power to you. But where I grew up, snails were a backyard pest that left long trails of shiny slime everywhere. We used to have a box of those blue pellets – snail poison – that we sprinkled all over our garden to keep the snails out of our tomatoes. To me, snails will never be food, no matter how much butter they’re drowned in.

Still famished, we followed the escargot with some good ol’ burgers and our new comfort food, Italian appetizers with prosciutto, melon and Mozarella di Buffala.

Have you tried escargot? What did you think?

Try everything at least once.

Alyssa Mia