All posts by Ethan Fajardo

My Favorite Meal and My First Train Ride In Italy with SPC!

Train Ride

My Favorite Meal

While in Italy, my favorite meal was atop the mountains overlooking Rome. After a long bus ride from the city to the mountains, we stopped at a small mountainside town. When we arrived, we walked through the city for a few minutes, admiring the locals enjoying their evenings, and then found the restaurant we would be eating from before getting some time to explore. After getting some pre-dinner gelato, I went back to the restaurant along with the people I was walking with and sat down at our table. Words cannot describe the aesthetics of the view. Not even the photo I have with this can capture the full beauty of the scene. The sunset was breathtaking, and the charm of Italian architecture and buildings only added to the beautiful and unique setting. We sat down at a table and enjoyed some conversations, the view, and we all sipped on sparkling water and Italian Coca-Cola. We had various discussions, and some may even remember my poetic discussion regarding godhood. We all had a good laugh over it. After speaking for a while, we were served with our appetizers. I cannot recall all that was on the plate, but they had some delicious bacon-wrapped pumpkin flowers that tasted amazing. After eating bread and a few appetizers, we were given some delicious pizza on a long wooden board. The pizza was one of the best I’ve had. Knowing this would be my last authentic Italian meal, I ate until I couldn’t bear to stuff another slice in my mouth. It was a sweet moment filled with melancholy as we enjoyed our last meal in Italy, but it was a magical experience. Being able to talk and laugh with some great food with the memories and experiences we’ve accumulated made that meal one of the best in my life.

My First Train Ride

Oddly enough, one of my favorite things in on my trip to Italy was the train ride from Rome to Florence. I’ve never been on a train before, and I was quite excited when we boarded. I never expected it to be so luxurious. It’s ironic as well because in comparison to many of the other trains, this wasn’t too noteworthy. After finding my seat and putting down my part of the table, I sat back enjoyed the ride. After a few minutes, we decided to play some blackjack. For about the first half of the trip, we were playing card games and enjoying our view. It was gorgeous to see the countryside in the morning. There were fields, hills, and various towns scattered about. I especially enjoyed passing through the fields of tall grass as well as the fields of sunflowers. I’ve never been outside of North America before, and to see such a beautiful landscape like that really struck me. On the train ride back, it was even more beautiful. The sunset shone an orange light on the fields, decorating the crests of the hills with a tangerine rim. As day became night, I unfortunately couldn’t see outside of the train, but I bet that it was beautiful.

Exploring Rome and Florence on SPC’s Study Abroad Program for High School Students

Exploring Rome and Florence

The best cappuccino I’ve ever had in my entire life was in a small cafe across from our hotel. It was time for lunch on the third day of our trip to Rome, and the classes we had in the morning ended. My roommate, Max, and I had a lot to eat for breakfast that day. We also had some work that had to be done, so we settled on having a quick lunch at a cafe.

For those who do not know, we typically get around 2 hours after morning classes to walk around the area near the hotel to purchase lunch or souvenirs. As we started our 2 hour break, Max and I walked around in search of a place to eat. As I walked down the corner of the street, I saw a cafe in the corner of my eye. Intrigued by the aesthetic of the cafe (as well as the short distance from the hotel), I suggested we eat there. Max agreed and we went and ordered. I ordered a sandwich with ham and spinach as well as a cappuccino.

After placing our orders, we decided to sit outside. It was a cool, refreshing day and the sun was shining bright. After some discussion about hobbies, homework, and Rome, Max and I received our sandwiches. We both ate slowly and savored the flavor. After finishing our sandwiches, we noticed that the waiter forgot our drinks. We politely reminded them and she was off right away. When she returned, she brought Max the Americano he ordered and brought me the cappuccino I ordered. After stirring in a pack of sugar, I took a sip. I was immediately taken back by the immense flavor and taste I received from the sip. The sugar cut the bitterness of the coffee perfectly, and I was left with the flavor of delicious Italian coffee and steamed milk. I continued to sip and savor the cappuccino. As we finished, we paid our bill and walked back to the hotel. I didn’t hesitate to tell everyone of the treasure hidden across the street from our hotel, and I cannot wait to get another.

Today while visiting Florence, we went through the leather markets. After walking a long while through the city and looking at the various forms of Renaissance art, we were given some time to eat and shop. After eating a sandwich, I headed out to explore the vast leather markets. The streets were lined with stands filled with any leather product you could imagine. There were key chains, jackets, briefcases, back packs, messenger bags, and much more. I was really touched by all the different forms of art present. After “Romeing” for a while, I came across a stand where most of my other classmates were. Apparently, this stand has been visited by many SPC students in the past years and is a favorite stop for Mr. Hesting. I examined quite a lot of the bags there, but what really stuck out to me were the messenger bags and the briefcases. After examining them for a bit and seeing the price-tags, I gave up in trying to purchase one as a lot of them were upwards of 400 Euros. I felt somewhat sad that I wouldn’t be able to purchase one, but my fellow classmates told me that I should try and get a wire transfer. After some begging, my mother was willing to transfer some money to my account and it was now my turn to bargain. I told the owner of the stand that I wanted to purchase a nice briefcase or messenger bag that would be able to fit my computer for around 200 Euros. He was willing to show me a few bags, most of which I did not like. However, after awhile he said that he’d go check his storage (which was nearby) for something. I waited anxiously as the suspense of if I’d be able to get what I’d wanted as well as the fact that I only had a few minutes of shopping time remaining ate away at my composure. After a minute or two, he came back with a gorgeous leather briefcase with a shiny buckle and sturdy strap. As I saw it, I knew that it was the bag I wanted. We decided that I would purchase it at 200 Euros, but as I went to pay my card declined. In the heat of the moment, I completely forgot about the conversion from USD to Euro. Lucky, I had 35 Euros in bills and 5 euros in coins that I could add to make up for it. I was barely able to get the briefcase, and I assured the seller that I really appreciated his kindness and that I will return in the future. I’m very glad to have come across this briefcase, and I hope that I can one day pass it onto my children.