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And away I go…

I’m on a plane headed halfway across the world right this minute…

So, I’ve been keeping a secret: I’m going to Israel for a month!

Why Israel and why now? Well, the lease on my apartment in the Bronx was up at the end of August. I put up fliers all over the area where I work and set up ads online, on various social networks, and roommate apps in search of a new place. I don’t know if you all remember what hell it is to find a place in NYC, but I was on the struggle bus again. Luckily, an Israeli professor I’d befriended from the area who had been teaching me Hebrew and helping me expand my study of Judaica (check out this blog post if you wanna know more) offered to let me stay with him.

SN: I sadly found out a week ago all of this created quiteee the scandal…I’ll tell you about it one day, but alas, it doesn’t matter now!

I recently (like 7 days ago) ended my time as a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient, after 2 years and 2 months. My patient’s condition had advanced beyond my comfort/experience level, and I gave my notice about 3 months ago. Around this time, my friend invited me to come to Israel with him since he knew I love to travel, am interested in world religions, and history. I knew my last day of work would be the end of November (I planned to go back to Texas for 3-4 weeks, like I have the past two years), so it worked out perfectly. 

My dad was stationed in the Sinai desert in 1986 and during his time there he went to Egypt and Israel and loved both places. I have been to Italy x4, Greece, Spain, Mexico, Turkey (day trip), and Morrocco (day trip), so I thought what better time than now to explore a new part of the world. I grew up hearing about Israel from my dad but never met any Israelis until I came to the Bronx. Obviously, Israel is in the news a lot for various reasons, but I have always wanted to visit for historical and religious reasons, so now I am.

Thankfully, I will have a friend there and have accommodations (like I did in Italy), so it’s really the opportunity of a lifetime.

I will be spending a week in Tel Aviv and three weeks at a kibbutz near Be’er Sheva. I will also be in Israel for Hannukah, Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s Eve.

As with 40 Days in Italia, I plan to blog this trip in its entirety. With the trip to Italy, I was able to create an exact itinerary in advance and dedicate time to writing about my day, which won’t be the case this time. Other than my accommodations, I have no plans since I don’t know what to expect and have never been there. But I do have a much larger social media presence than I did in 2014, so be sure to follow me @THATGINGERANNA (seriously: snapchat, twitter, periscope, IG, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.) and subscribe to my Youtube channel!

SN: My goal is to get 100 subscribers on YouTube so that I can reclaim my custom URL…help me out! 🙂

I will be posting regular updates and cool pictures across platforms, so let’s have some fun, y’all!



SN: If you live on the east coast and are looking for an awesome employee or a roommate, email me at thatgingeranna@gmail.com and find me on LinkedIn!

Italia in 40: Day 39…Pizza, Gelato and Puzzles!

Today was my last full day in Italy.

I got a new bellybutton ring. I got my bellybutton pierced when I was 17, but I probably haven’t worn a bellybutton ring since I was 19. I saw some cute ones and they were only 6 Euros!

I took the subway to Flaminio and walked to Piazza del Popolo. I sat and watched people for a while and then walked down Via di Ripetta to Tavola Calda da Simone e Mirella.

I got 2 pieces of pizza, a water, and a beer for 6,50! I walked back to the Piazza and sat on the steps of Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli and ate my pizza, but I felt weird about drinking beer on the steps of the church, because I’m a weirdo, so I walked into the Piazza and sat and watched the street performers and finished my drink. I took some cool pictures and video and then I walked back down Via del Corso. I got some gelato: coconut and chocolate and walked down a little bit and found a place to sit. I ate my gelato and go some sun and then I stopped back into Alcott. They had a sign that said they had new arrivals, but those new arrivals didn’t include my shorts…sad face…I almost got a t-shirt, but changed my mind.

I kept walking up Via del Corso and went into a couple of churches, including a church with a HEART in it. One of the little chapels had all kinds of pamphlets about life as a Catholic and Catholic doctrine. I took a few because since I am a convert there are lots of things that I didn’t learn in RCIA or topics that I was never told the official stance of the church. I gave a donation since I took several pamphlets and saint cards. I took some pictures of the church and then left.

I walked down Via delle Carrozze to Piazza di Spagna. I stopped and bought some more postcards and souvenirs for friends, but I couldn’t find a post office ANYWHERE. I am praying I see one tomorrow on the way to or at the airport. If not, I will have to mail the last 3 postcards I have from the U.S.

After walking around Piazza di Spagna trying to find a post office, I walked down Via del Babuino and stopped at Difronte A to have a couple of glasses to Prossecco and just relax and enjoy the afternoon. I walked into a couple of shops and wanted to buy some stuff, but refrained. I made it back to Piazza del Popolo and took some more pictures. I wanted to go up to the top of the hill bordering the piazza, but there were tons of people and tour buses up there, so I just walked around some more. I started walking back toward the metro, but then I found an awesome little shop under the portico of the arches leading into the piazza. It had lots of souvenirs and typical stuff like that, but also awesome cool books and PUZZLES! I got two puzzles-one of one of my favorite paintings by Gustav Klimt and one of my mom’s favorite paintings. I wanted to get some books, but it’s already going to be hard enough to get these puzzle boxes back.

After getting my puzzles, I went back to my apartment. I wanted to go back to Blind Pig or get dinner somewhere, but I still had a crap ton of groceries to eat that I bought earlier in the week. I ate some cheese, tuna, crackers, and salami. I won’t lie and say it was delicious, but at least I didn’t waste all the money I spent on food.

I had a little wine, packed my stuff, bagged up my trashed, got the food I was going to eat for breakfast, threw out all of the trash I’ve accumulated, and laid out my outfit for tomorrow. I have to check out of my apartment at 10, but I don’t have to be to the airport until 1:45, so I might stop at a cafe or something. If not, I will go straight to the airport and check in for my flight and check my bag, but then leave and go eat or do something before I go through security.

Thank y’all so much for reading. I will reveal my next series tomorrow…be READY, it’s going to be CRAZY! 🙂



Italia in 40: Day 38…Books, Cross-dressing, and Korean Food!

Today I woke up and paid the bill for my hotel. I highly recommend Aurora Green B & B! It’s a reasonable price for the location, cleanliness and quality of accommodation! As I was leaving the guy that runs the place was getting in to a MAJOR argument with someone on the phone and I was laughing so hard…he was going HAM on whoever was on the other end of the phone!

After all that, I went back to Via del Corso to try to find those shorts I saw at Alcott in Naples. Earlier this week I went to Men’s Alcott on Via del Corso, but today I went to the coed store.

I can’t wear their women’s clothes–it’s basically Hollister/Abercrombie & Fitch for Italians. They have CUTE women’s stuff, don’t get me wrong, but I have too much cellulite to wear their shorts or pants…MERP. They had a Brooklyn basketball jersey that was really cute, but I didn’t get it.

I didn’t find my shorts at the coed store on Via del Corso.

If you are going to Rome, I suggest two things for sure: Vatican City and Via del Corso. The Vatican is beautiful and overwhelming, and Via del Corso runs from the Spanish Steps to Mussolini’s “palace.” It’s store after awesome store. The luxury brands are closer to the Spanish Steps and the cheaper stores are closer to Mussolini’s “palace.”

After failing to find my shorts, I walked back towards the Steps and got on the subway. I stopped at the government library and bought some excellent primary and secondary sources for my future research. The cashier acted like she had legit never rang anyone up before (as in didn’t know what buttons to push on the register), but she was SO sweet and told me about an exhibit happening right now regarding the liberation of Italy in WWII and she told me how to order books online from their store-which will be AMAZING for my future studies of Italian political history. After leaving there I went into the Italian parliament building and got yelled at for taking pictures. I saw something today about them having a parliamentary meeting today, but I went into the “public entrance” and got in trouble, so I don’t know how one would go see a meeting of the parliament. I know you can go in for tours, but once again I’m not sure how.

After leaving parliament some man stopped me in the common area in front of the building and was being really weird. He had pamphlets for some kind of art thing, but never gave me one. He asked how long I was in town and where I was staying, but it wasn’t like a flirty type of thing, it was just weird. I played it off and after about 5 minutes he walked off and I started back towards the Spagna stop. I made an uh-oh and went into a book store…I wanted ALL the books! I might go back tomorrow and get A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, since I was in Bassano del Grappa and part of it is set there. I didn’t buy anything there since I bought books earlier and I started back toward the station.

I looked up the locations of Alcott and saw that there was Alcott men’s store on Tuscolana, so I just stayed on line A a couple of stops past my building and checked that store with NO luck…I should have just bought the damn shorts in Naples when I saw them…

I saw that there was another store near the Bologna station so I decided to try. It was almost 5 so I was worried it would be closed. I got back on Line A, went to Termini, switched to Line B and rode to Bologna. The store was literally right in front of the station exit, so I went in and couldn’t find the shorts I wanted…:(

They are khaki burlap, with an aloha print–help me find them!

After leaving the store I realized I had lost my metro pass! Yesterday I bought a 16 Euro, 3 day pass, so I was freaking out! I bought a one-time ticket for 1,50 Euro and went back into the station and patrolled the floor, picking up every pass I saw (a lot of people drop their tickets). It turns out that I either found mine or another one that expired tomorrow at midnight, so I picked it up and got on my way.

I decided to try to find a Korean restaurant called Hana that was advertised on a sign in Vatican City yesterday. I got off at Termini station and started walking around. I had taken a picture of the map printed on the advertisement yesterday, but I got confused. I walked all around and my phone was dying, but I couldn’t find it. I walked past one Korean restaurant called Arirang and ALMOST went in, but decided against it because there were NO customers and the proprietor was standing outside trying to get people to come in. I used my iPhone and finally found Hana Korean Restaurant. It was kind of expensive and the service wasn’t great (just a man and his son running it and cooking), but the food was great and I didn’t get food poisoning-so 4/5 stars!

I got the chicken bulgogi entree which included rice and banchan. I ordered soju, but didn’t get it (they didn’t charge me-so, no harm, no foul). The entre, water, and cover charge came to 22 Euro, which isn’t bad, considering how much I’ve been charge at other places I’ve been in Italy. They also have free Wifi and my corner table had an outlet!

SN: I highly suggest carrying a converter and charger everywhere you go.

After dinner I walked the short 20 yards back to Termini, hopped back on the train and decided to stop at Re di Roma to go back to the super market. I ran right in and picked up some yogurt, wine, water, and an ice cream cone. They have AWESOME yogurt flavors at Punto Simply. The Muller brand is so delicious. I’ve tried white yogurt with chocolate crunch and coconut with lime crunch.

SN: I think I’ve seen this brand, but different flavors, at U.S. stores…

Today I bought white yogurt with truffles, so I will update you when I eat it. Also, I bought a liter of red table wine for a little over a Euro!

I was able to walk from the grocery store to my building since I’d already been there and it was only one subway stop away (maybe a 10 minute walk).

Today, I shopped and got to take some awesome pictures.

I can’t believe tomorrow is my LAST day in Italy. After that difficult 12th-14th day hump, it  FLEW by. I’m already packed up, so I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow, but it will definitely include one last visit to Blind Pig and hopefully something fun and memorable.


Italia in 40: Day 37…Vatican City, a Stolen Knife, and Craft Beer!

It was clear this morning, but clouded up again around noon, unfortunately. I made it down to Vatican City right after the first round and right before the second round of storms.

I, once again, forgot I had a knife in my purse so I stashed it behind a water fountain and got in line for the x-ray machines and metal detectors. I went to the Vatican souvenir shop, book shop, into the Basilica, and to the post office.

I bought stamps for all of the postcards I was going to send (13) and it cost 28 Euros. Stamps to the U.S. are 2 Euros each O__0. After buying some souvenirs, browsing books (there were so many I wanted to buy: the catechism, a Bible, and a Latin dictionary, but they were 30 Euros each, so I had to skip them), and mailing my post cards, I went into the Basilica and took some pictures. I didn’t stay too long because it was SO crowded and it started raining again. I went to another souvenir shop outside of St. Peter’s Square and then went back to get my knife. I found the water fountain and made sure no one was looking, bent down to grab it and it was gone :(…I am hoping that the police or Vatican security saw me drop it and took it, but I bet it was just some rando…Which sucks because that knife has come in handy during this trip! I just used it yesterday morning to open my UHT milk…and now if I get kidnapped I can’t go out BAMF style and save myself…

After losing my knife, I made my way back to the subway.

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I got on the subway around 7 and it was SO crowded. I seriously can’t even describe it. It was like a sardine can. I got some good pictures of passengers though…there was a nun going through the rosary and a couple going HAM on each other…it was interesting to watch everyone.

I went one stop past my building and got off so that I could go back to the bar I visited with my friend on Friday, Blind Pig. I ended up stopping at Gran Cafe Alberone on the corner of Via Gino Capponi and Via Appia Nuova to have a spritz and watch people. I got an Aperol spritz, which is a bitter orange mixer with sparkling wine or prosecco added. I sat at a table and they gave me two types of chips, salsa, and my drink for 6 Euros. I talked to an old man and watched people for about an hour, before walking down to the Blind Pig. I walked past and it was empty, so I decided to walk around the neighborhood and take pictures for a while. After taking pictures I stopped at another bar and ordered another spritz, but they didn’t understand what I was saying, I guess, because they gave me an espresso. I drank it and then went back to Blind Pig. I got two pints of Apollo beer and some lemon pepper fries for only 14 Euros (I ordered a hot-dog, but they were out of them apparently) and they were playing Johnny Cash, so I took some more pictures and just sat outside for a bit. I don’t know if they were really out of hot-dogs or just really didn’t want to make them because once again I ordered in Italian to try and practice, but then homeboy waiter thought I was fluent and started talking to me rapidly, in complex sentences, so I just said “ok” and ordered my fries…

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I left around 9 to go back to my place to watch Mexico v Brazil.

I saw a sign for a Korean restaurant today, so I hope to go try it tomorrow or Friday since it’s right near Termini station.


Italia in 40: Day 36…More Rain and the Spanish Steps!

So, it freaking stormed HARD again all day. It got so windy and was lightening so hard that the owner of the place had to come into my room and use a special tool to let the awning down over my balcony and she showed me how to latch the shutters.

I tried to wait until it stopped raining to go do something, but it kept on and on. I only have a shitty umbrella from Walgreen’s and a thin sweatshirt form Old Navy. I don’t have a jacket or shoes or a good umbrella, so I’m kind of at the mercy of the weather, unfortunately. The forecast says it’s going to rain all week, which sucks. I didn’t plan on going to any of the tourist attractions because I’ve been to them all-several times, but it still sucks that the weather won’t be nice.

I have found several shops I want to go to and I wanted to try to go to the movies and maybe take a day trip to Anzio. I am going to try to go back to Alcott and buy the clothes that I found in Naples that I wanted: These shorts (in khaki) and this shirt (in a different color scheme). I wouldn’t ever wear them together, but I loved both prints!

The rain finally stopped around 6:30 so I made a break for it, hoping to get downtown before it started up again. I took the subway down to the Spanish Steps and then walked around and made my way to Via del Corso. I walked all the way down it and ended up at Piazza del Popolo. I don’t know why, but it is SO much easier for me to navigate here. I’ve written about how easy it was for me to navigate in Venice, but today was really easy too. Leaving form the Spagna stop and walking to Via del Corso. I wound up back at the place I went to eat pizza and watch soccer with my friend the other night. I was shocked at how close the subway stops were and that I knew exactly where I was. I walked around that area and explored. I found a cool book store that only sold maritime themed books! I walked past a church, a hospital, and some awesome graffiti, before heading back toward the Spanish steps.

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On my way toward Via del Corso I passed several restaurants, so I went back and ate at Numbs. It was really delicious and although the service was typically Italian (no “get up and go” so to speak), I loved the atmosphere. Thankfully, just as I sat down it started POURING again. The restaurant filled up quickly, but I was in a corner table for one, so it was an awesome spot to watch people. I got a bruschetta for an appetizer, caccio e peppe for my meal (which is similar to an alfredo sauce, but lighter and with black pepper), and a glass of Sicilian red wine. They brought bread, which means I had to pay a seating charge. All together my meal was 22 Euros. It was really enjoyable and the atmosphere was nice and the staff was pretty friendly as well.


While I was there, people kept ducking under the restaurants awning to escape the rain. This mother and son ducked under the covering and they had paper bags and one ripped, so they just combined them and then threw the trash from the other one on the ground. One of the waitresses GOT ON THAT ASS. I saw the whole thing and was laughing and she knew I saw what happened so she was nice to me.

After dinner I wanted to get a coffee or an ice cream, but it was already 9:30 and I couldn’t remember what time the subways shut down during the week and I was far from my apartment building, so just went ahead and left downtown. I stopped and bought some postcards at this souvenir stand, took some pictures of the Spanish steps since they were practically empty, and then went to get on the subway. There was a cool performer in the subway and he was playing 50s music and had a sign in his guitar case that said “Give me money to fix my time machine, I need to go back to the 50s.” I was so impressed, I gave him some coins. 😛

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When I got on the subway and sat down, this Bangladeshi man sat down next to me and he looked familiar, but I didn’t really worry about it. He started talking to me and it turns out he was the guy that sold me my postcards. He remembered exactly what I bought, it was funny. He asked me if I lived here or if I was visiting, where I was staying, and how long I was in town, but I was just really vague. I am 97% sure he was high or really sleep deprived (or both), but he was nice. His name was Mohammad. I feel so bad for the migrants that sell stuff on the streets. All I can think is how bad their lives must have been in their home countries that they were willing to move to Italy and sell mass produced goods for such low wages. They are EVERYWHERE in Italy-north, south, east, and west. I always wonder where they live and what they eat and how they got to Italy and why they chose one particular country and city. They usually sell little novelties on the streets like laser pointers or these jelly toys, but when it rains they have umbrellas and they also sell roses at night around major tourist attractions and restaurants. I have seen several of them yell, quite loudly, at people when they won’t buy their products-which scares me. I really, really want to make a documentary about them and about the gypsies. I imagine they live commune style and share their wages because there is no way they make enough off of the 2 Euro umbrellas and novelties to survive in Italy. I feel bad when I see men that have had to swallow their pride and do jobs that they may be over qualified for, just to make a little money. It also worries me because all of these men are visible and out selling stuff on the streets, which makes me think there are equally as many women in the factories and brothels of Europe, being exploited just the same…

After I got back to Ponte Lungo I walked down a bit to see if I could find somewhere to buy a coffee or ice cream, but everything was closed, so I just came back up to my room.

I wish I could say that I am going to go do something cool tomorrow, but it’s already started storming again, so I really don’t know what my plans are. I would like to go explore the other side of the river, but we’ll see…