Cristiana Cavallo

Joined March 2019
  • Apr1

    Lucerne

    April 1, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    Lucerne! A very unexpected stop for me. In fact Switzerland was never even on my radar. But a twist of fate brought me here and I'm thrilled. I jumped on the opportunity to see a childhood friend of mine who I haven't seen in many years. Turns out, he is now the quarterback for an American football in Lucerne these days. Go Lions! After he contacted me and told me the deal, I basically had no reason not to go. He even had his first game coming up and I said I'd love to go! For a general non-sports fan, it was very interesting and cool to see an American sport played In Europe. The game was actually in Bern, so I took the train there from Zurich airport, and then took the train back to his place in Lucerne that night afterward. Turns out Lucerne is just gorgeous, and (as my friend had told me in advance) has an overall laid back feel for being such a tourist destination. It's a lovely and charming little town, with views galore. We explored a little and found a castle wall that you could climb and walk the length of. Then suddenly, we found ourselves inside of a clocktower. Just in time for 4pm! Loud as hell but very cool! Aside from being a pricey town (as I believe most of Switzerland is) I was thrilled to have caught these views and gotten a feel for the town. Would definitely return! Especially for the sunset by the train station/harbor - breathtaking!Read more

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  • Mar30

    Alone in Cologne

    March 30, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    After Germany, Switzerland would be my next stop. I've spent a good amount of time in Germany (on tour with the dance company I work for), and decided that my unexpected three nights in Lunen were plenty of small town German culture for me this trip. A childhood friend reached out when he saw on Instagram that I was in Belgium, and said if I wanted to stop over in Luzern I was welcome! I planned not to plan anything on this trip, and for this exact reason - so that I could travel with the flexibility to take advantage of unexpected situations just like this one! So, I found the cheapest way to get to Switzerland from Germany was a flight from Cologne. And of course, since the flight was at 6am, I planned to stay out late and then sleep in the airport for a few hours. (Saves money, at the expense of your body.)

    Anyway, my day/night alone in Cologne (lol) was wonderful!!! I love cities of this size. You can walk the whole thing in a day, explore different neighborhoods, maybe do a tour or whatever, find a great spot to eat and drink on every corner. Lots of beautiful German architecture and so many fun energetic bars. Definitely a bit touristy but I can get down with that. I really only had one meaningful interaction the whole day, embarrassingly with an American and a new friend of hers she had met in Amsterdam. But it was nice to share our travel stories and compare our experiences and opinions of Europe vs. USA.

    My favorite discovery was an outdoor antique flea market! A little Platz called “Neumarkt”. Lots of awesome things to be found there.

    One more advantageous find - as soon as I got off the train in Cologne I realized it was gonna suck to have my backpack with me the whole day. It’s, not too big, but you’d rather walk around a city without it. So I happened upon a “luggage storage” right outside the ticket office and money exchange counter. Amazingly efficient and very cheap! 6 euro for 12 hours or something like that. I was so thrilled I found it. Something to look for in other cities!

    Overall, a lovely day in Köln! Would love to return.
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  • Mar27

    Lünen

    March 27, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

    Lünen was a last minute planned stop, and only made in order to see a friend of mine perform in a show there. They’re touring Germany and this was the most easily reached show for me! The show was great - until toward the end of act 1 when my friend epically slid across the stage in tap shoes (like I’ve seen him impressively do countless times before) finishing with a full body weight slip/fall directly onto his left wrist, breaking his radius on impact. A wild turn of events which quickly changed my quick one night visit into a three night hospital stay by his side! Funny, ironic, very sad, but also fortunate - this situation worked out well for me. Happy to have had more quality time with him, happy I was ABLE to stay with him, and happy I got a little familiar taste of small German town life. Lünen was lovely for the time we spent in it, and I learned much about the differences between German hospitals and American. There are many, for both better and worse!Read more

  • Mar24

    Brussels

    March 24, 2019 in Belgium ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    First let me mention my means of travel to Brussels from London. I opted for a FlixBus because, although long, cheaper than the last minute train ticket. It was packed, and hard to find (I had to flag it down myself, nearly missing it, but this is a normal occurrence for me), but it was a very cool experience. Geographically-challenged-me didn't even think about how a bus would get to the other side of the English Channel. Answer? They put the bus INSIDE of a bus-sized train car. Claustrophobia-enducing for some I would think, but very cool to me! You're under the water for a while, being propelled through water inside of a bus, inside of a train car. A friend of mine noted "it's like the turducken" of travel. Blew my mind.

    My stay in Brussels was lovely. My actual "stay" was in a town called Landen, about 40 minutes east of Brussels. My hosts here were a friend of my sister's from college (who I haven't seen in 10+ years, but responded and welcomed me without hesitation when I reached out about visiting), and her husband. They both work for Médecins Sans Frontières out of Brussels (true heroes). They picked me up from the train station after a long day of unexpected work (on a Sunday) and took me immediately to "Manneken Pis." It's an incredibly small fountain, of an incredibly small naked boy, with an incredibly small penis. That's the whole thing, and I think it's generally understood as a joke. But they sure are proud of it! Very funny. I later found the sister fountain, "Janneke-Pis" (across from the popular Delirium bar - overrated, you can get both the beer and experience in America). And I actually found this version so ADORABLE and picture worthy. Maybe I could relate to her more?

    We got beers at a bar called Poechenellekelder, across from the fountain. It was a little kitschy but in just the right way for me! And they had an extensive beer selection that was almost entirely foreign to me, so my host Lily pointed me in the direction of some special German beers. One favorite was Orval, pictured here.

    The next two days I spent exploring the city by foot, as you do. I went to the Magritte museum (worth it), and the comic book museum (also worth it, to learn about the rich comic history in Belgium, but a very short trip). Mostly got a taste for some beautiful city views. The main plaza, Grand-Place was a nice landmark and spot to stop and relax. As far as food goes - the pommes frites were average to me, having enjoyed many pommes frites at home in NYC or in Germany that I thought topped the ones I had here. The waffles though, rocked. I learned that there are two kinds - gaufre de Bruxelles and gaufre de Liege. The Liege style is great! I preferred it. It's got pieces of sugar inside of the waffle itself and is less perfectly square than the Brussels style. So delicious.

    One of my favorite moments was stumbling upon an elevator on the street. I saw a couple of people head into it, and it seemed so arbitrarily placed in the middle of this quiet street, I assumed it had to be there for some good reason. I took it up to the top, where it opened to a small, short bridge to the plaza outside of an enormous beautiful old courthouse, with a monument in the center that I don't actually remember anything about because the view was so wonderful. There were people taking pictures all over, understandably so. Beautiful view I didn't know about ahead of time, which is the best kind!

    There is certainly. a lot to be done and seen in Brussels. I would have loved to take more advantage of the arts scene there, with a little more time and money at my disposal. But walking around and catching sight of the great comic street art scattered around the city is very cool. Nice juxtaposition of history, beauty, and modern art.
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  • Mar17

    London

    March 17, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    London is, as everybody told me, just a really pretty big city. Like New York, it has architecture both old and new, many museums, and many cool new neighborhoods comparable to several in Brooklyn. My roommate from college was my host here, and she lives in Hammersmith on the west side in a flat with her boyfriend and two other couples. They'd been in this living situation for three years, and although it's a wonderful way to save money in an expensive city, they were over it and looking in the area for a new place.

    Shoreditch was also very cool, lots of spaces repurposed as bars and restaurants, like many other cities. But one thing I noticed across London was the amazingly creative and efficient use space! We found restaurants, bars, art exhibits, shops, and more that were built into, over, or under the rail lines. In places you'd least expect. So I loved that about London. I kept thinking "this would never fly in New York". A friend and I walked from Shoreditch to White Chapel, where Brick Lane is. If you like Indian food and have any interest in middle eastern cultures, this is an incredible place to be. So diverse and lively and fun, and deliciousness all around.

    We hopped on the commuter boat to take in the sights. We got off at Westminster and got some good views of Parliament, Big Ben (which was under construction, so, underwhelming), and the London Eye. Great way to see the big picture of things and then diving into the ones that interest you by foot!

    My favorite experience in London by far was my walk around Hackney on the Far East side of London. I came from the "Here East" business park and started walking south along the canal. I was loving the sight of the house boats on the water, each so individual and cute. Then I came upon a RESTAURANT boat. I was hooked instantly, and hopped on. Apparently it stays stationed in this spot. They have a lower deck inside where the kitchen and bar are located. So cozy and elegant! I sad on the upper deck, outside, where I could take in views of the water. It was gorgeous and so calm! I sat next to a man and his dog, enjoying a glass of wine and a sandwich. I found out it was his birthday and he lived nearby, and therefore the two of them do this walk daily. He pointed me in right direction to walk after my lunch. It was absolutely lovely.

    We also visited Abbey Road! Totally worth the visit if you're a Beatles fan or even just a music fan. Awesome history, you can stop traffic and reenact the album cover, write your name on the wall, and shop in the gift shop. Very cool spot and not too too touristy. Just great to see!
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  • Mar17

    York

    March 17, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Driving from Durham to London, our first hosts recommended we stop in York along the way. And I'm glad they did! It's a lovely English town with a rich history, castle pieces and Roman influence scattered throughout. We wandered the streets for hours, crossing the river a couple of times. Bustling but not overrun with tourists, just enough to be pleasant company! We paid a meter to park in a lot near Clifford's tower, good location for a few hours. Parking was CRAZY tight, but it seems like the English are used to this. We had to do a quick 13-point back-in to the spot we found. Ridiculous. Anyhow, the town was lovely and great for a quick stop.Read more

  • Mar13

    Durham University

    March 13, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌬 10 °C

    Here are some pictures from our tour of the castle and cathedral, part of Durham University where our friend is currently doing her sociological research. It was all so beautiful, SO old, and just humbling. We got to imagine we were students at Hogwarts too - they filmed parts of the movies on the grounds here, and the architecture certainly maintained the same daunting feel!Read more

  • Mar13

    Durham, England

    March 13, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌬 11 °C

    Durham was a wonderfully unexpected kickoff to my travels. This is where I began, admittedly not alone. I traveled to Durham with a friend, met two new friends, and came out of this visit inspired and excited to see where my travels would bring me. These new friends also introduced me to Find Penguins!

    Highlighted here are some of my favorite moments and discoveries from out around Durham, including a vintage shop. My friend and I love finding thrift shops in new towns and cities. I much prefer returning home with an old t-shirt or piece of jewelry from a local thrift shop than a brand new, probably over priced, run of the mill printed piece of apparel from a souvenir shop! You pay a fraction of the price, and often retain a better memory of the place you got it from because of its uniqueness!

    Our hosts brought us to one of their favorite restaurants, a Lebanese restaurant called "Lebaneat". They had been raving about the baba ganoush and with great reason! They both have several dietary restrictions but knew this was a place that they could find a delicious and accommodating meal. My friend and I eat everything under the sun, and we were equally blown away by the food. Truly a contender for top Lebanese food experience - and I've had many!

    We also found a gin bar called “Tin of Sardines”, named for their claim to be “Durham’s smallest bar”. And it was indeed! Just one tiny room, the “bar” part was arranged on one wall of the room, so there was in fact no bar at all, just a shelf where the bartender could concoct the drinks. There were benches built into the opposite wall, and a bathroom in the back. A fantastic use of a space and an interesting concept for a bar! Because of the space limitations, the bartenders are inevitably part of your conversation and experience. Not intrusively so, just enough to discover what kind of drink you like or are in the mood for and then NAIL IT. Sidenote: I’ve worked in cocktail bars as a server for four years now, and thus have developed an interest and appreciation for unique bar designs. I learned here that gin bars in the UK are typically identified by an extensive selection of gins, as well as tonics. I had no idea that so many different flavors and styles of tonic existed! In the US, I've pretty much written tonic off as a gin mixer, opting for soda water instead. Partially to do with the quinine content, but also because the taste doesn't appeal to me and tends to take away from the flavor of the gin. But this place re-opened my mind to the classic G&T. Definitely going to research what other tonic options we have at home, aside from the standard soda brands. This bar left us raving about our drinks (one of us slightly more passionately than the others...comparing her drink to a long lost love that she would be dreaming about for nights to come...).

    Other than those spots, we ate at a couple of different pubs, got fish and chips for takeaway, explored the shops in Market Hall, and just got lost in the tiny alleyways around town that serve as shortcuts from one street to another. This was fun because we almost never knew where we would end up! Great way to learn the layout of the town.

    Special thanks to our star tour guide, a remarkable 14 year old with a brain and creative spark like I’ve never seen before. We were so lucky to have her guidance, company, conversation, and adventurous spirit in this little castle town!
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