Craving Italy? These Spring Break Trips Are For You

By Samantha Elise Jacobs

If you’re not studying abroad in Italy, then you’d be insane to skip this country while studying abroad in Europe. During your spring break, you can soak up the highlights of this magnificent country without breaking the bank. Navigating around Italy by yourself can be challenging, but there are a couple of spring break trips that will let you explore without trying to figure out the Italian train schedule. 

Italian Getaway: Florence, Rome, and The Amalfi Coast

The first stop on the Italian getaway is Florence. No picture could ever capture the intricate details of the Duomo.

TylerDurant@tydurant9Florence, ItalyI walk past this building daily and I still notice something new every single time. If you’re going to splurge on anything new (guys, this can be you too—time for a new wallet?), then you’re going to want to hit the leather market while you’re here. It basically packs all of the things you’ve been passing by in stores lusting over and puts it all in one place—get ready to barter.

You’ll also want to hit the Piazza Michelangelo and view the beauty that Florence is famous for. If you’re in Florence, you also can’t pass up the opportunity to have a family style dinner in a true Tuscan atmosphere (wine on wine on wine). There are an endless possibility of activities and trust me, no one will know the city better than your guides (c’mon this is our home). Next, you’ll hit Rome. You can’t go to Italy without going to Rome.

THERE IS SO MUCH TO SEE IN ROME—the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain. We’ll make sure you get to take in all the sights and also have time to experience the culture and have your fill of some of the best food and wine in the world.

File_003Last, the Amalfi Coast. This is hands down my favorite place in Italy. I actually can’t find the words to accurately capture it.  You will never see something more beautiful than the views you’ll see as you’re cruising around Capri (would Giorgio Armani choose anything less to film a commercial?)

You’ll get the entire view of the Isle of Capri and find out how the Blue Grotto got its name. You know the kinds of pictures that look fake? Yeah, every single one you take here will seem like that.

JoeLeo - Capri

This is the place that made Limoncello famous so you’re going to want to get as much of it as you can while you’re here. Plus, my mouth waters thinking about the seafood you’ll eat here.

Experiencing a night out in Sorrento is incredible. I’m not big into bragging, but when it comes to the Amalfi Coast, no one does it better than Bus2alps—it’s our award-winning trip. We’ve partnered with the best of the best in the Amalfi Coast to give you the best quality trip that you would not be able to find anywhere else, let alone on your own.

This trip hits the best aspects of Italy—the Tuscan vibes in Florence, the historical landmarks of Rome, and the beachy, gorgeous views of The Amalfi Coast. If you’re someone that likes a little bit of everything, this trip is for you.

Best of Italy – Rome, Florence, Venice, Verona, and Milan

If you’re wanting to cross even more cities off your list, Best of Italy is for you.

After exploring Rome and Florence (see Italian Getaway if you need to refresh your memory), our next stop takes you to the dreamlike city of canals: Venice. This city will make you fall in love with Italy. The second you walk into Saint Mark’s Square, you’ll be taken away by the atmosphere—every time I do there’s a musician stringing together a chilling melody and it feels like it’s my first time there all over again. You’ll get to experience a gondola ride through the city (and yes, your driver will really sing a melody to you like in the movies). You’ll also take a ferry out to Mirano and Birano (two islands off of Venice).

Venice is known for their glass bowls and Mirano is the reason why. You’ll get to watch the process of its creation with a glass bowling show and be in awe that something so beautiful can be created from what seems like virtually nothing in minutes before your eyes. In Birano, you’ll be struck by the quiet streets contrasting against a loud, vibrant array of buildings. The island actually governs the choice of house color among its residents and they definitely know what they’re doing because the buildings here are beautiful.

Bus2alps Venice Rialto

Our next stop is Verona. Made famous by Romeo and Juliet, Verona lives up to its culture. We’ll quickly make our way to Milan because we know you’ll want as much time as possible here. If you’ve kept some self-control throughout your travels (or really, even if you haven’t) you’ll let yourself take advantage of Milan’s Fashion District. You’re also going to want to visit the Santa Maria della Grazie, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, ‘The Last Supper’ and take in the pure art before you. Milan is also home to the Teatro della Scala, arguably the most famous opera house in the entire world.

Best of Italy is for those who really want to get the culture and history that makes Italy such a popular destination for people around the world of all ages.

Stay Fit Overseas: Beat the “Abroad Fifteen”

By Emily Carrello

Studying abroad will be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of your life. However, it’s easy to fall into a vacation mindset when it comes to health and fitness. Our eating habits change for numerous reasons (ahem, Gatto dinners & Pino’s.) Other reasons include the reluctance to try new foods, availability of foods that we are used to, and of course, the increased consumption of alcohol and Secret Bakery croissants (shhhh).

So, how can we avoid letting “Freshman 15” history repeat itself while still experiencing everything life abroad has to offer? The key is not to deprive yourself completely, but to make small changes in your daily life.

Here are three simple steps to help you reinvent your thought process towards food: Macros, cheat meals, interval training. It all may sound like a bunch of jibberish, but these three diet and workout techniques are going to be your key to success this semester. The good news is, all of this is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. You don’t have to be a gym rat and you don’t have to give up what you love. Win-win. Here’s the Sparknotes version of everything you need to know:

  1. Macronutrients: Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to fill up on pasta and bread, especially in Italy. Carbs satiate hunger quickly, but they don’t keep you full for an extended period of time, which causes you to eat more in the long run. Proteins and fats take longer for the body to absorb, keeping you fuller longer, which helps us to avoid the urge to snack shortly after a meal. Your best bet is to skip the calorie counting (because no one has time for that while traveling the world). Instead, go for a good balance of macros. Just make sure you’ve got enough protein and healthy fats on your plate to balance the carbs. Perhaps you can swap the endless bread basket for a vegetable side dish. Remember, don’t get caught up in numbers, you’ll just drive yourself crazy.
  2. Cheat meals: Give yourself one day per week where you don’t worry about diet. Not saying you should binge on gelato and wine, just saying give yourself a break once in awhile. The best way to control cravings is not to restrict yourself too much. Each weekend when you are exploring a brand new city, give yourself a free day. Try the food, experience the culture, enjoy the lifestyle. It’s your holiday.
  1. Interval Training: Maybe you don’t have a gym membership (if you want one, check out Swan Gym) and you don’t have time to run 5 miles every morning. No big deal. You can add a 15 minute program into your daily routine and burn more calories than you would running on the treadmill for an hour. No it’s not a scam, it’s science! All you really need is a good set of stairs or an open space. If you do have access to a gym, you can use an elliptical or bike to get the same results. All you need to do is get your heart rate up and then bring it back down again. 30 seconds hard work: 30 seconds rest for each minute. This type of training is easy to work into a busy schedule and can be done just about anywhere. Bonus: a high intensity interval workout keeps your metabolism burning longer and stronger. So you’ll be burning more calories throughout your day without any extra effort. Can’t beat that!

Your main focus when you’re trying to sustain a healthy lifestyle abroad, is to be realistic. You’re here for the experience of a lifetime, to make new friends, and to explore the world. Keep trying all those crazy gelato flavors, just don’t forget to balance it all out!

Ultimate Interlaken Playlist

By Caroline Schagrin

Nestled in the nook of Switzerland, Interlaken is home to beautiful snowcapped mountains juxtaposed with azure colored lakes and majestic forests. Interlaken, in all of its beauty, attracts adrenaline junkies and fondue enthusiasts alike. Whether you find yourself jumping out of a plane, shredding the Swiss Alps, or simply enjoying Swiss chocolates and relaxing, this playlist is a must! 

Take it all in, and add these 17 indie-electronic and alternative pop songs to your travel playlist.

  1. Around The World – Kings of Leon
  2. Are you with me – Lost Frequencies
  3. Beautiful Life – Lost Frequencies ft. Sandro Cavazza
  4. Plans – Elephante
  5. Trndsttr (Lucian Remix) ft. M. Maggie
  6. Wasted Youth – Sody 
  7. Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl – Wet
  8. Hymnals (RAC Remix) – Grizfolk
  9. How Hard I try – Filous
  10. Where I Wanna Be – A R I Z O N A
  11. Next Year (RAC Remix) – two door cinema club
  12. Aloha – Mome
  13. Can I – tez cadey remix
  14. Give me sunshine – spada edit cut Santa Mardona
  15. Fast Car – Jonas Blue remix
  16. King of Summer – Ayokay ft. Quinn XCII
  17. Higher Love – Charming Horses, Grace Grundy

Wine & Dine Your Parents with a Taste of Tuscany

By: Molly Dunn

It’s safe to say you feel like a new person after a few months of studying abroad. You’ve experienced multiple new cultures, eaten foods you’ve never even heard of and managed to direct a taxi driver in a language that isn’t your own. You’ve been away from home for a long time which means you’re starting to miss your parents. Chances are high that not only were your parents missing you too, they were also happy to have an excuse to come to Italy for a visit.

A lot of parents make plans to visit their children abroad around the Thanksgiving time, so I’m writing this as a way to help you prepare. You’re their little globetrotting travel expert now, so you’re obligated to show them a good time! Like any good child, you pull out all the stops.

If you’re in Florence, you’re planning to show off the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo.. Maybe even a family picnic at the Boboli Gardens. But we all know the most important part of this trip for both your parents and you… is food and wine. You’ve got it all planned, pizza at Gusta Pizza, paninis at Pinos or All’antico Vinaio, some gelato at Gelateria dei Neri and you’re definitely taking them for the pear ravioli at La Giostra.

If you’re in Rome, you’re taking them to the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain.. Maybe even watching the sunset from the Spanish Steps. The food tour will start with pizza from Dar Poeta in Trastevere, Pane e Salame for a panini near the Trevi and then a stop by the Frigidarium for the best gelato in Rome.

So.much. food… You know what you need to wash it down? Wine.

You know the best place for wine? The Tuscan countryside.
Lucky for you, Bus2alps has you covered. Take your parents on an unforgettable “wine crawl” through Tuscany’s Chianti region on the Taste of Tuscany day trip. Visit two different wineries and enjoy a three course traditional Tuscan lunch all while bonding with your parents in a way only ample amounts of delicious food, wine and relaxation can offer up. Share some incredible views with vineyards in your backdrop, have some of world’s top rated gelato, and they’ll be happy to finish off Christmas shopping with some added generosity. Then you just convince them to ship back a couple bottles (or cases) of wine and truffle oils back to the U.S. to be waiting there when they get back.

Your time abroad has made you grow in ways that you never could have imagined, and your parents will definitely take notice. As the wine flows, your parentals will find inspiration to tell you stories you’ve never heard and stories they never thought of telling you. Like that time your Dad got food poisoning in Ireland or when your Mom backpacked through Eastern Europe for a few weeks with a man named Hans. No matter the story, you will find that your relationship with your parents is on a whole new level.


The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Well, you’re in Europe, you can’t just sit on your couch! So instead, experience a traditional Christmas market in one of Europe’s coolest cities. The air is crisp, lights are sparkling and there are sugary treats that look like cinnamon rolls on steroids. I assure you a European Christmas market beats that ugly sweater party at home.

  1. Vienna Christmas Markets: November 11 – December 26
    This is the mecca of all Christmas markets. Where it all started. If Santa had a vacation home from the North Pole, it would most definitely be Vienna. These markets date back to the Middle Ages and are some of the best in the world. The smell of fresh schnitzels, roasted chestnuts and that mesmerizing candied walnut smell fill the air. You can grab a glass of hot mulled wine or dabble in chocolate covered strawberries. You will feel like you’re in a fairy tale. There are Christmas trees draped in Christmas lights, horse drawn carriages, and over 200 small wooden market stalls lining the streets selling handcrafted christmas goodies. Now tell me that doesn’t beat sitting on Santa’s lap outside an Macy’s in an American mall.

    bus2alps schonnbrunn
    Being Opulent at Vienna’s Schonnbrunn Palace
  2. Prague: November 26 – January 11
    So you’re probably wondering where you can snack on sausages, enjoy a Czech beer and pet a donkey all at the same time? Right there with you. The Prague markets make you feel like you are stepping into a fairy tale. They ship a giant Christmas tree from the Krykonose Mountains in the Northern Czech region, and it radiates in the middle of Old Town Square. You can find glassware, unique jewelry, embroidered lace, wooden toys, metalware, ceramic, scented candles, ornaments, scarves, puppets…the list goes on!More of an eater than a shopper? I don’t blame you. Traditional Czech foods are made at the market vendors and there are samples galore! It ain’t a market without some free samples. Try a piece of ham roasted on spits, barbecued sausages and flaky pastries prepared right in front of you. Wash it all down with a famous Pilsner, Urquell, Staroprament or Budvar beer. To cap it all off, there’s an animal stable where you can play with some goats, sheep and donkeys.

    Night at the Prague Castle
    Night at the Prague Castle
  3. Budapest: November 13-January 6th 
    The smell of spiced mulled wine and chimney cakes baking will get you into the holiday spirit like nothing else can. Stock up on trinkets for everyone back home. Taste the local cuisine, check out nativity scenes and folk dances and even join in with the caroling. 532821_3491756006620_976708449_n