Favorites of Firenze: Churches

Firenze, Italy is home to some of the world’s most beautiful churches. From their crown-jewel, the Duomo, to multiple smaller, equally beautiful churches tucked throughout the city, Firenze is largely known for their churches.

One of my favorite parts of living here is being able to pass by these churches and admire their beauty throughout my daily life. I decided to share some of my favorites with everyone else so you may see what I’m talking about. I will say that if you have quite a bit of time while you’re visiting the city that you should either go into these churches by buying a ticket (some are free) or by going to one of their masses.

Florence Cathedral, or The Duomo

IMG_1161.jpgThe Duomo is partly the reason I fell in love with this place. I did not do much research on my new home before moving here, so when I saw it I was all sorts of surprised. Each walk by this monumental church still amazes me every single day. From all the legends I’ve learned about it, actual history, and going to a mass, I fell deeper in love with the sky-piercing cathedral. IMG_3572.JPGIf you ever visit Florence I highly suggest buying the ticket for the Cathedral. To go in is free, but to climb the bell tower and dome, go into the ruins underneath the cathedral, go to the neighboring baptistery, and to go to the museum across the street you need a ticket. It is all included in one, relatively inexpensive price, and the tickets are good for 72 hours. My roommate and I climbed the bell tower at sunrise and the dome at sunset. It was honestly one of the best things I could have done for myself. You get to experience a whole new part of Florence (from the top) and you get to see why the Florentines are so dang proud of it in its entirety.

**I plan to do a full post on the Duomo and everything you need to know about visiting in an upcoming post, so check back later for that.

Santa Croce

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Another one of my favorite churches is Santa Croce. I’m one of the lucky ones because I get to see this church every time I go to class. This is only the second church I have gone to mass in since being here. I went on a Friday, so mass was held in a smaller chapel. This particular chapel was floor to ceiling marble, paintings, and statues. There was not a bare spot in this chapel. Although I got to see the inside of this church, I have not paid to see the rest of the church grounds which includes a bell tower and a courtyard. I can honestly say that if you have time and money to go in while you’re visiting that it might be worth it to you. If all you have time for is to see the beauty from the piazza you should still make time to see it.

San Miniato Al Monte

One goal of everyone’s while visiting Firenze is to usually visit Piazzale Michelangelo toIMG_2094.jpg see an amazing view of the city and a fake David statue. What most people don’t know is that there is another amazing, if not better, view from just a little bit more up the road at San Miniato Al Monte. Not only is the view great, but the church is also gorgeous. When you walk up the front steps you are greeted by a beautiful green and white exterior with a gold mosaic at the top. Once you turn around you have a great view of the mountains behind Firenze, the city itself, and the rolling hills alongside one of the old city border walls.

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One of the coolest parts of this church is that you could spend hours here and you would have no ideas just by looking at the front of it. The third time I went, I figured out that behind the church is a massive cemetery, and although this sounds very weird and kind of creepy is was not at all. There are dozens are chapels that look like tiny churches where people are buried that are decorated all differently. Some are decorated with beautiful mosaics while others different stones. It looks like a little city of chapels amongst gravestones. The property is massive and one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

 

 

Sant’Ambrogio

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Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com

In one of the more local parts of town, past Santa Croce, you will find the church Sant’Ambrogio. This church is very plain from the outside, so many might not know what lies within. This, to me, is more of a local style church. It is near the Sant’Ambrogio market, so it is easy for me to imagine and witness people going from a church service to the market (depending on mass times). I never would have known for this church unless I lived where I do. I am just down the street from the church, and I pass it on the way to my school restaurant. One random Friday I decided to take a look inside. It is free to go inside, and I encourage you to if you have the time. It feels a bit homier in comparison to some of the other churches mostly because it is. It is much smaller and houses some very beautiful works of art on the wall. The alter is not nearly as large as the other from previously mentioned churches, but it is still a good size. This is a little bit off the beaten path of the main churches, but take five minutes to visit it. You won’t be disappointed.

Still On My List

Despite having so much time in Firenze, there are still multiple churches I want to visit and masses I want to attend. On my list still is Santa Maria Novella which is beautiful from the outside, and I can’t wait to see the inside. Another is Basilica Santa Spirito. This one is on the other side of the river and is also a more simple, locals church. I need to make a trip to visit the inside and attend a mass. Basilica San Lorenzo, tucked behind the Duomo, is also a church I have seen from the outside but have not ventured in yet. They are on my list to see for the last weeks I am here.

The pictures alongside my descriptions don’t do these churches justice, but I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re ever in Firenze take the time to visit some of these churches, they won’t disappoint.

Sincerely,

Krystal, With a “K”

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Mackinac and St. Ignace, MI

One of my favorite parts of living in Michigan is that you can have it all. From cool cities to breathtaking nature spots, the only thing Michigan doesn’t have is an ocean. This past week I was able to make it to a place that makes Michigan one of the most unique parts of the United States; Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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Just before crossing the “Mighty Mac,” or the Mackinac (pronounced MACK-IN-AW) Bridge, you can stop in the northernmost town in the lower peninsula, Mackinaw City. This is where you can stop to take in the bridge and snap a few pictures with it.

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Once you cross this magnificent bridge, you find one of my favorite little towns in Michigan, St. Ignace. This quaint little town is where my family and I spent countless summers, with the rest of my extended family. From playing in Lake Huron, visiting our favorite shops, watching fireworks, and eating too much ice cream, there was always something for us to do. There is so much history in this town as well as beautiful views, like the ones you see when you climb Castle Rock.

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My favorite part of this place is how small the town is the fact that it’s right on the lake. I could spend hours looking through the stones for different designs or flat ones to skip. If I’m not searching for stones I could sit on a bench with some ice cream and watch the ferries go from the mainland to the island and back. St. Ignace is one of the best places to relax with some of the nicest people around.

IMG_0852St. Ignace is also a place where tourists can stay before and after their visits to Mackinac Island. With the lack of cars and the excessive amount of horse-drawn carriages, this eight-mile island makes you feel as if you’ve just stepped into the past. There is a variety of cute shops, cool bars, ice cream shops, and out of the ordinary activities on the island that is fun for the whole family. You can stay on the island during the summer or winter, and some people live there all year round. This is another place that helps Michigan stand out from the other 49 states.

I feel so lucky to be able to drive less than five hours to this beautiful place almost every summer. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to take a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or at least to see the bridge and visit Mackinac Island to see the beauty and wonder that exists in the Great Lakes State.

If you’re ever in St. Ignace be sure to visit Indian Village and to climb Castle Rock for me.

Sincerely,

Krystal, With a “K”

 

 

Spring Break 2017- Texas!

Although I have been back from my spring break for almost a month now, one of my goals was to share my love for the state of Texas with all of you, so here it is!

My dad’s brother lives about an hour outside of Houston in The Woodlands, Texas. My aunt and my cousin, who is in between my sister and me, also live there. It just so happens that all three of us ended up having the same exact spring break for the first time ever, so we definitely wanted to see each other.

When I describe The Woodlands to people I usually describe it as a bubble. This is mostly because there is a clear difference when you cross over the town’s lines into another. I have visited Texas multiple times now, so I love to go and see what has changed since the previous time that I have been there, hang out with my family, and find new things to like about Texas.

When I went to Texas last year we road tripped to a gas station in Madisonville called Buc-ee’s. Now, you are probably wondering why we would make the drive to a gas station but this is not your regular gas station. They make their own foods there, have a lot of tourist shopping, as well as the gas station pumps. The trip to Buc-ee’s includes stomping to see the Sam Houston statue and shopping at an upscale retro feeling flea market type of store called Annette’s Touch of Class. Since we made this trip without my sister last year we wanted my sister to experience more of Texas, so we took a morning to show her the infamous gas station everyone talks about.

One opportunity that I took advantage of this year was attending the Houston Rodeo at NRG stadium. I may be from a small town in Michigan where we go to the fair, have too many cornfields, and other things people consider to be country, but nothing could have ever prepared me for the Houston Rodeo. This was an all-day affair. We started around 11:30 with shopping the vendors that sold anything and everything from hand-made jewelry to official cowboy hats. We also walked around to see the animals and got to see chickens hatch. After that, we ventured outside to the food area where there were various tents full of any kind of fair food you could think of. I ate a funnel cake and a footlong corn dog so you could say I was in heaven. After eating we went to the carnival, and this wasn’t just any old carnival. There where four ferris wheels, a section dedicated to games, and more carnival rides in one place than I had ever seen in my whole life. We spent a good three to four hours there before making our way to the actual rodeo part inside the stadium. This was legit; bull riding, cattle roping, and way more. The opening ceremonies were so extravagant that they took about 15 minutes. After the official rodeo, there is always a concert which we did not stay for because Old Dominion, who was supposed to play, was replaced because they had a family emergency to attend to. Overall, we did not leave until almost 9:30, which would have been later if we went to the concert too. I 100% recommend the Houston Rodeo for anyone who has nothing to do and money to blow at the beginning of March.

Other than the main event of the Houston Rodeo, we spent a lot of time relaxing in the hot tub, eating good food, and enjoying each others’ company. We did spend some time shopping because there are some shops, like Alex and Ani, that my sister and I don’t have up north, and because who doesn’t love shopping?

One thing that we usually do when I visit is to drive around looking at the different styles of homes. They are all very upscale looking and have a large amount of character, in my opinion. Anyone who knows me knows that I love houses, and although my life’s goal doesn’t include the biggest, coolest house (although what would be wrong with putting that on the dream  list?) I do love to get ideas for when I can even think about a home (so I’m talking many years need to go by, like I need to pay for college first).

Texas is not a normal destination for college spring breakers, but I am so glad that I made the trip. I love seeing my family, and I love a relaxing week I hope that you guys can make it to Houston during the Rodeo at some point; it is a must see!

-Krystal, With a “K”


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For the Love of Football

If any of you know me personally or have seen any of my posts on any form of social media then you would know that I love football. Not only do I love football, but I also love the Green Bay Packers. I had already enjoyed college football with my mom and grandpa, but when my stepdad moved in he introduced me to a whole other culture of football.

Now, most people will argue that college football is where it’s at. They will say that students play for the love and not for the fortune and fame like professional football players do. I don’t think that they are wrong, and I am not saying that I love one more than the other. What I will say is that I get really into watching NFL because of the longer seasons and the excitement of the playoffs.

As playoffs are upon us, the Packers have made it to another NFC title game following their nail-biting win over Dallas. I had the opportunity to visit the home of the Packers for their first playoff game of the season against the New York Giants in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

My first visit to Lambeau field was an experience I will never forget. I learned so much about the team I love, where they come from, and more about my stepdad. I feel so lucky to have gotten to experience this with him. He used to live there so we spent the evening prior to the game cruising around the cool little town and exploring Lambeau field. I learned so much from him about the people that live there through his memories and our excursion around the Bay. To me, one of the best parts of the trip was doing the exploring and seeing what makes this city more than just football.

One thing I will suggest to anyone who visits the city of Green Bay, whether you are a fan or not, is to go on the tour at Lambeau. I learned so much from a tour guide who solely was there to help people learn more about one of the oldest teams in the franchise. Not only do you learn facts about the Packers, but you also learn more about the NFL in general and the original teams. Aside from that, you get to see a box seat and even go onto the field! I was even lucky enough to see Mike McCarthy (head coach) in person while we were about to go out onto the field, and that is something I will never forget.

I have to say that it was just insane to learn more about the history of a team I love so much. I don’t live in Wisconsin, so I get a lot of crap for being a Packers fan. This trip solidified my love for this team. No matter who you root for in the NFL I will tell you to make the trip to Green Bay even if for a day. Personally, I hope to go visit some other historical stadiums in the future and learn more about the sport I love to watch.

Here is a small list of things I recommend you do if you ever visit:

  1. Eat at Krolls across from the stadium
  2. Take a tour of the stadium
  3. Go into the Packers pro shop (even if you just look)
  4. Drive into the city part of Green Bay
  5. Drive around Titletown district
  6. Take lots of pictures!

 

-Krystal, With a “K”

The Windy City

With the thrilling end to baseball season early Thursday morning the world erupted with the end of baseball’s longest drought. The Chicago Cubs brought home Major League Baseball’s most coveted title by winning the World Series. They were down in the series 3-1 and came back to win it in the Indians’ hometown of Cleveland in extra innings of game 7.

With the baseball season ending in Chicago many people have jumped on the bandwagon of loving Chicago, or rather, they found yet another reason to love the Windy City.

As it is Thursday I thought that it called for a  throwback Thursday. For one week this past July, my cousin and I spent the week in Chicago in my other cousin’s apartment. I got to see some parts of the city that I have never experienced. Here are some photos of the things that I like to do while visiting the beloved city.

If you have any other suggestions for my next visit let me know!

-Krystal, With a “K”

Krystal Meets Bahamas

One thing I have always felt passionate about is traveling. I love meeting new people, seeing new places, and learning new things. After telling people all of this, most seem surprised that I’ve never been out of the country (besides Canada when I was traveling to Boston). If you’ve read the title to this post you already know that I finally went international. Yay! I was lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s timeshare with her family and another friend for a week. This timeshare is on Paradise Island, home to Atlantis. I feel totally blessed to have experienced some new culture and create memories that will last a lifetime.

I was there for just over a week, and I came home today. We spent many days relaxing on the lazy river, laying out in the sun, swimming in the pools/ocean, and taking on the waterslides. It was incredibly hot there, and, other than raining for less than five minutes one day, the weather was near perfect for vacation. Now, I could sit here and go through every day to tell you what we did and bore you to death, but I will highlight some things to definitely do (in my opinion) if you ever visit Paradise Island or the Atlantis resort. Also, I will tell you what my favorite parts of the vacation were.

MUST DO’S:

  • Explore as much or all of the Atlantis resort as possible (it is so amazing)
  • Really look at all the architect of the awesome place
  • Go on every water slide at the park
  • Walk through the tunnels inside Atlantis to explore the giant aquariums
  • Go on the Lazy River multiple times
  • Go to the candy store in the Atlantis Marina Village
  • Walk through Marina Village and shop
  • Try Rum Cake
  • Go on an excursion away from Atlantis (perhaps one on a boat)
  • Go into Nassau for the Straw Market
  • Watch a sunset from the beach
  • Shop away from Atlantis/Dine outside of the resort
  • The Parade in Marina Village
  • RELAX!

PERSONAL VACATION FAVES:

  • The Lazy River
  • Breakfast at Margaritaville
  • Laying by the pool(s)
  • Swimming in the ocean
  • Walking through the aquariums
  • Exploring/taking fun pictures around the resort
  • Boat Excursion***
  • Enjoying the people around me

** The boat excursion we chose was well worth what we paid. As a party of 6 we chose a smaller company that has a smaller fishing/speedboat manned by one guy. You tell the captain what you want to do for the time and he takes you to do it. We ended up snorkeling, swimming with sea turtles, and deep sea fishing. SO WORTH IT!!

Overall, the trip was on the pricer side (as all vacations are), yet I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my first major international trip any other way. I suggest wearing lots of sunscreens if you ever visit and to check out some of my “must do’s”. Hopefully, I will upload some of my GoPro videos soon but for now here are some pictures.

–Krystal, with a “K”