Weekend Update: 1/18-1/20

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I had a semi-relaxing weekend. The apartment is starting to come along and feel like a home, rather than a few rooms with boxes and stuff everywhere. I even hung up my gallery wall- which I love so much!

One of my best friend’s, Marie got engaged. However, she scared the crap out of me telling me on the phone. She started with, “I need to tell you something,” then said, really fast, in between what I think were tears some mumbling nonsense with her boyfriend fiance’s name. My overactive imagination jumped to the conclusion that he was in a coma or got in a motorcycling accident, not that he even owns a motorcycle-  I just watch too much TV… Anyways, thankfully no one was in the hospital and I didn’t have to rush across the country to be by my friend! She just got engaged!

My friend Brooke and I decided to try the dive bar in an alley near our apartments. Apparently it’s “world famous”, only takes cash, and has a fabulous musical selection that includes Mickey Avalon’s “My D*ck,” Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” and of course, Trace Adkins, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” Just the classics, ya know…

I also made a stop at the beach to get a free microwave and coffee pot for my apartment! There I got some great antlers for the apartment and got to dip my toes in the sand for a smidge bit. I also got to go to my faaavooorite bakery in the world, well at least the Tampa Bay area. Cafe de Paris at Indian Rocks beach. I went there all the time a couple summers ago when I was living at the beach.

Last night, Brooke, Chelsea and I met downtown for free yoga in the park. There was a festival going on so the class was relocated to a section of the park I had never seen before! I love when I discover something/somewhere new in a place I thought I already knew well!

My friends and I also decided on a new rule that if it’s possible to walk somewhere, instead of driving, we walk. That way, it’s better for our wallets, the environment and our health 🙂

Love, Liv

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Five Things to Do: Taormina, Sicily

olivia leigh gaggiHere are my top five things to do in Taormina, Sicily:

1. Have cannoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner (:

2. Walk to Isola Bella (it means beautiful island in Italian)
The guy who sells you the ticket to walk around the island is going to make you feel like you have a special discount by saying, “for you, tickets are two euro.” Then you’re going to realize that the sign that clearly states that the price for everyone is two euros (oh, those Italian men).
While you’re there, break the rules a little and climb over the sectioned off rope to explore the parts of the island that are “forbidden” to tourists. (:

3. See the Greek theater

4. Meet new friends and make a wine cooler with rocks on the beach
SIDE-NOTE: They say “when in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and I think that saying should stand for anywhere you go while travelling.  So, if you feel the desire to lay out topless on a European beach – go for it. I won’t judge and it’s actually quite freeing… Plus, you won’t have to worry about tan-lines (;

5. Stay at Hostel Taormina!
The staff was super nice and helpful and told you where to get discounts in town! Plus, look at the view from the terrace!

One last thing! I didn’t get a chance to visit the Turrisi Bar while I was there, but if someone could check it out and let me know what this “famous penis collection” is about, I’d appreciate further clarification, thanks!

Liv Learns: Post College

It’s been a hot minute since I updated this thing so I thought I’d catch everyone up with five things I learned about myself since my last entry.

    1. I can go somewhere completely foreign on my own. Travelling on my own showed me how much I was capable of. Researching destinations, planning hostels, transportation basically everything is just the first half of going on a trip like that. Once you head out solo is you learn that, once you open your mind to opportunities you can accomplish anything.

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    2. I can run. While I’ve always been into working out and fitness I absolutely despised running. At the gym, I’d sprint for about five minutes at a time, go do something else, then sprint again. Coming home after Europe and graduation was going to be the first time in my life that I didn’t have a gym membership. That, plus the fact that I decided to grow out of my asthma this past summer, is what motivated me to learn to love running! Since, I’ve done a 5k, 10k and next month I’ll be running in a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot with my sister!
    3. I can kinda cook. Before I got my job, my life this summer consisted of these things: Instagram, running, Pinterest and catching up with old friends. But, mostly Pinterest. Therefore I spent a lot of time looking at food and recipes. Before this summer the only things I could make were strawberry pizza and tortellini soup. Thanks to the lovely invention of Pinterest I’ve now made cookies from scratch! And these interesting avocado chocolate chip pancakes! 
    4. I can get a job! After what felt like months and months of hunting for a job and feeling like I’d forever be living at home with my parents, I found a perfect one for me! Now, if only finding the perfect boyfriend were that easy.
    5. It’s possible to have a new beginning in an old place. If you had asked me six months ago where I’d be right now I would’ve said, “anywhere but Tampa.” Heck, if you had asked me four years ago I’d probably say the same thing. I changed my mind. I realized that my hometown is actually a pretty good place to be. We’ve got the best beaches nearby, amazing sunsets and plenty of interesting people to be entertained by. It’s all about perspective and how you see a place or situation.  Returning home having graduated college and having grown into who you are is a totally different situation then when you were 17. Like you would anywhere else, you’ll get a job, meet new people and have the experiences you want to have. You just have to go out looking for them.

Love,
Liv

PS- I also learned how to do a top bun! Wha wha!

Split and Dubrovnik

Even before I knew how I was getting to Dubrovik, I knew I had to get there. Not just because it’s in “1000 Place to See Before You Die” but because I had already booked my flight from Dubrovnik to Madrid at least month or two prior.

It may not seem as though that it would be that difficult to get to since it’s literally next to Italy but you’d be surprised!

Easy Jet starts flying direct from Rome to Dubrovnik but not until July 1st. The only flights currently available had ridiculous connections and were really expensive.

After a lot of research, I figured out the best way to reach Croatia would be to take two trains from Florence to Ancona, take an overnight ferry to Split, and then a four hour bus ride from Split to Dubrovnik.

Phew! It took a good minute to get there but it was worth it!

Three days and nights of a peacock inhabited island, sea kayaking and going out and getting to know the locals a little bit and I found myself falling in love with this small city.

I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast, the Italian Riviera, the French Riviera and Sicily and the ocean and beaches I saw in Dubrovnik easily topped them all.

As of now, I’d officially rank them:

1. Dubrovnik
2. Taormina (Sicily)
3. Sorrento (Amalfi)
4. Cinque Terre (Italian Riviera)
5. Nice (French Riviera)

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Cliff jumping is supposed the be the thing to do in Dubrovnik. I didn’t do because I was travelling solo but it looked like so much fun!

Love,
Liv

Cinque Terre and Chianti

During my week in between part one and two of my trip I stayed in Florence with my family. Even though I’ve been to Florence a half-dozen times I still was able to have two fun and new experiences.



The first of my new experiences was Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre literally means five lands. Five villages along the Italian Riviera all border one another and are connected by hiking trails, trains and ferry boats.

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A friend and I decided to do two hour long “intense” hike to the very last beach. We saw some of the best views of the coast and the towns and had a great workout.

Cinque Terre is known for their local white wine and their pesto so before we left we were sure to stop in at wine bar and have some wine and crostini with pesto.

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A couple days later, once Marisa and Scott arrived, the three of us with my mom went to Castello di Verrazzano in Chianti for a tour of the vineyards and wine tasting. In addition to plenty of wine, we each had a huge plate full of cheese, prosciutto, salami and other yummy things! So delish!

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Love,
Liv

Things I Wish I Packed

For the most part I think I packed pretty well. This is definitely the lightest I’ve ever traveled anywhere for any amount of time (just one backpack for a whole month!) there have been a few things that I wish I had packed.. but at least I’ll remember them for next time.

Here they are:

  1. External drive. I’m glad I didn’t pack my whole computer. I’m in Europe and I didn’t come here to spend my time on the computer. Plus relying on my smartphone and paying for time at internet cafe’s really limits my time on the internet which is good when there is so much to see and do in a new city. However, I do wish I brought my external drive. I’ve been keeping all my files, reservations and guides on my dropbox account which has been great but it would be nice to have something that doesn’t require internet access to get to my documents! Plus, the major reason it would be beneficial to have packed an external drive is that I’ve already filled up the memory card on my DSLR. I’ve been using dropbox again to store images but like I said, I’d feel more comfortable if I had somewhere off the internet to keep them safe!
  2. Towel. Just a small to medium size one so I wouldn’t have to pay one to three euros at every hostel to rent one. The last hostel made me buy one actually for five euros which I found annoying. The towel actually is pretty good for what I need though its small enough to be packed easily and big enough for showers/beach/etc. I’m just pretty sure I could’ve found a similar one for less in the States.
  3. Nyquil/Dayquil. The pill kind. Didn’t pack any because I decided I wasn’t going to get sick and I wanted to save space. That was dumb because they hardly take any space and I did get sick! Thank goodness for the sweet friend I made in Taormina who gave me a couple days worth of both Nyquil and Dayquil!
  4. An art tube. Since I was about 12 I started collecting paintings from street artists in different places I visited (my first one I bought in one of an old ghetto in Prague). I’ve already bought two paintings and tomorrow I’m going to the studio of an artist that I bought from four years ago in Florence. He said he’d give me a REALLY good discount since I’m a returning customer and his paintings are definitely my favorite ones that I’ve collected.
  5. Tevas or Chacos. Or whatever those hippy shoe are. I swore I’d never get a pair but honestly, I wish I had for this trip! I’ve done so much walking and the shoes I brought aren’t as comfortable as I thought they were.

Just a couple little things that would make this trip easier!

Love,
Liv


One week of travelling!

I’ve officially been travelling around Italy and Sicily (apparently they’re separate) for one week now! I’ve been to Palermo, Taormina, Segesta and I’m now spending my first night in Milan!

Taormina was possibly one of the most amazingly beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Actually, the entire island of Sicily is one of the the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Volcanic mountains next to the blue ocean- it was remarkable. Even if Palermo did scare me the first couple nights and I woke up screaming from night terrors for the first time in my life. It really wasn’t that bad though. Luckily, one of my friends that did a study abroad with me in Florence two years ago, was also in Palermo at the same time as me.  After exploring of the nicer parts of town, I found that Palermo really wasn’t as bad as I thought. Thankfully I didn’t wake up screaming my last night.

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I met two fun and sweet girls from Wisconsin at my hostel in Taormina. On the last night there we all wanted to have one of those full course Italian meals. I got seafood risotto and veal for my courses. The other girls got lasagna, swordfish and mixed fried fish for theirs. I couldn’t even finish my food but it was delicious. The last morning in Taormina we all did a hike up to an Arab castle and saw some incredible views of the city and sea.

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The other place I visited in Sicily was Segesta. There’s pretty much only one reason to visit Segesta and its for their Greek temple. I think I read that the temple there is actually in better condition than the Parthenon in Athens. It was definitely worth the trip. I missed the bus and had to take the train to get there. It was about 30 minutes longer of a ride and I had to hike a kilometer uphill to get to the temple. At the end I decided that that must be how the Greeks felt hiking up to temple and decided it just added to the experience. There was also a pack of rabid, wild dogs on the way up to the temple. Yes, Sicily has wild dogs. They have red eyes, they growl, they’re not friendly and they are scary. But thanks to some kind Sicilians, who didn’t speak a word of English, that drove on the road between me and the dogs in order to block them from me, I made it up in one piece!

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I really have had the best encounters on this trip. So many kind people have insisted on helping me in little ways even though they don’t know a word of what I’m saying! I’m so thankful for all of them!

Anyways, I have a busy day of museum hopping tomorrow in Milan so I gotta bounce.

Love,
Liv

PS- Laugh!

Summertime

So I’ve been insanely busy with my internship cause I’m out of my mind and agreed to work until August 16th when I head back to Boone for school the 18th. So while everyone else has finished up their summer internships I’m still working on mine! Which is great because I’m learning a ton and meeting so many wonderful people.. I just wish I had scheduled in a little vacation time before I start my senior year of college! I still have no idea how my senior year is already here but that’s a whole other story!

Some other very exciting news in the Life of Liv is that I have another internship already lined up for this coming winter break with Daytime on News Channel 8! I had my interview with their lovely executive producer last Monday and I am very excited about this fabulous opportunity. I am so excited to learn more about the broadcasting aspect of communications careers!

I’m trying to fit in as much fun experiences as I can in my last couple of weeks in Florida as I can before I move back to the mountains so I’ve been extremely busy. Last Saturday I went snorkeling through Tropical Island Getaway’s with my lovely friend Samantha Whiting and had the time of our lives! I already knew about Tropical Island Getaway through one of the Family Fun tours I had been working on through my internship with Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater. I included it on my tour of South Pinellas county so I decided to give it a try myself!

The guides/captains were so much fun and they gave us a heads up on the best seats on the boat so we could get the best view of the dolphins who came and played and jumped behind us for part of the ride. The ferry was BYOB and they had extra coolers to keep your drinks and snacks reallyyy cold. Then we once we got to Egmont Key the snorkeling gear (and noodle floating devices) were included and we got to see all the cool marine life around the ruins of the Fort Dade, which was used in the Spanish American War.

After the snorkeling portion of the trip we went over to the island which was incredible. You don’t see beaches like that too often. Everything was very natural feeling.  The only thing missing was Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom from the Pirates movies!  We hiked around the old fort and saw the lighthouse which was built in 1858.  After our explorations then we went back and relaxed in the water with a couple noodles and brews.

There were private boats all pulled up and anchored right on shore.  If I ever move back to Florida for good: 1) I must live closer to the ocean and 2) I will have my own boat.

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After Saturdays sea adventure I went on a different kind adventure to Universal Studios. There was no way I was going back to North Carolina without seeing Hogwarts! I am a huge Harry Potter fan and had to see the new section of the park!

I think my favorite part of the day was going to Ollivanders wand shop. When you go to Ollivanders you can either wait in line and go in with a small group of other Muggles and have a chance at being picked by Ollivander himself to go through the whole process of finding the perfect wand for you or you can just skip ahead and just pick one yourself. I, of course, wanted the whole experience and luckily Ollivander picked ME out of everyone in our group to find the wand for me! Anyways the Ash wand picked me.. thats the same type of wand that Cedric Diggory had and it was also the same as Ron Weasley’s first wand.

It was such a fun day! I even tried fish and chips again. For those who don’t know me but I stopped eating seafood when I was nine years old because I ate too much fish and chips when we lived in Cambridge, England for a little over a month that year!

So anyways, I’m at my parents right now recovering from my wisdom teeth removal surgery and after going a little stir crazy the past couple days I decided to go run some errands around town with my mother.  We went and looked at the lot where they are going to be building their new house. It’s really beautiful and has a woods in the backyard which are going to be nice for barbecues and get togethers. Hopefully it’ll be done being built by the end of December!

Then we had to go run some errands in Temple Terrace (the part of town where we use to live.) I feel really bad because I kind of made my mom go and drive by our old house even though she didn’t want to and it looked terrible.  It was so depressing to drive by. The new owners were not taking care of it at ALL. There was crap all on the roof, the lawn needed to be mowed, they tore out some of the bushes so the yard looked bare and ugly, there were bouncy balls and toys all over the yard… The entire front of the neighborhood looked HORRIBLE because of the jerks that moved into our old house! The house I grew up was entirely TRASHED. It was beautiful when we sold it to them. My parents worked so hard to make it nice and they literally just killed the entire house and made the entire neighborhood look awful. I really hope that somehow the new owners of —— see this post and realize what assholes they are for killing an already beautiful home. I hope they realize that the entire neighborhood of Raintree Oaks probably thinks they’re douche bags for doing so.

Okay, well that’s what I’ve been up to lately! I’ll upload some pictures from one of the tours I’ve been working on later! Summer is almost over!

Love,
Liv

Liv’s Weekly Goals

Goals for this week:

  1. Watch at least three sunsets: I live at the beach. I need to make a point of getting back home before 8:20 p.m. and watch Florida sunsets more often.
  2. Be in bed by 9:30 each night: I need to get more sleep. Need. More. Sleep.
  3.  Introduce myself to at least three mayors at the Big C meeting Wednesday: I have to build up some confidence when talking and meeting public figures around the community and in the world. Once I push myself to do it won’t bother me so much in the future.