Travel with Dyl: Florence

Florence was a dream. Some of my fondest family memories were made in Florence. After hopping off the train from Venice on my brother Jared’s birthday we were determined to not waste a minute. While our parents dealt with the hotel and such, the two of us wandered the city until dark before meeting our parents for dinner. We immediately felt that same homey feeling our parents have been telling us about for years. The Grossmann’s adore Florence.

Favorite Meals

Acqua Al 2

Although that looks like homemade kraft mac and cheese it was the most delicious vodka sauce I have had in my life. The pasta was a perfect al dente. We came with friends our first night in Florence and returned the last night before we hit Rome.

Antico Noè

The most delicious paninis. Mine had pesto, turkey, cheese, tomato, and so many more fresh ingredients. I love a good sandwich and this is for sure the best one in Italy.

La Giostra

A famous spot in Florence for good reason. The food was overwhelmingly good and the vibes were incredible. The owner is an eccentric man who has gold bracelets up both arms to his elbows. We still sprinkle their balsamic on our Caprese at home but it does not compare to the fresh ingredients at La Giostra.

Sites

Ponte Vecchio

The charm that this bridge carries is unforgettable. Like a little city over the Arno. Shopping it may be chaotic but the views are unparalleled. Our balcony had a straight view of the Ponte Vecchio making it such a large part of our trip. I couldn’t look away.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Known as the Duomo, the architecture of this Cathedral is incredible. The precise detailing and structure relative to its massive scale and time of construction are hard to fathom. I’m much too claustrophobic to climb the 463 steps to the top, but Jared went by himself like the brave tourist he is.

David (Michelangelo)

Renaissance art was a highlight of the trip for me. The most wowing piece was for sure the David. It is incredible how Michelangelo carved something so lifelike and perfect out of a block of stone. What really struck me are Michelangelo’s “Prisoners” or “Slave” statues leading up to this massive work. They are unfinished, which leads many people to believe they portray the eternal struggle of human beings. I believe in the theory that he had found the sculpture in the stone and felt no reason to continue freeing them.

More Fun

New Years

New Years is always special but this one is my most favorite. We waited on our balcony and watched as people began crowding the streets and the Ponte Vecchio. When the clock struck midnight we cheered with the people, popped Champagne over the Arno, and watched fireworks light up Florence. It was beyond belief.

Waffle Nutella Sandwich

You can always count on me to stop for dessert when I see it. I had been smelling the waffles all through Florence as they were sold in almost every Gelato store. Finally, I got one with a creamy layer of Nutella in the middle. It was so warm and sweet.

Cooking Class

This was so yummy and the most hands-on cooking class I’ve ever participated in. We went to the market to pick out fresh ingredients and then straight to the kitchen to make lunch. We got to make homemade pasta, sauce, pizza and an artichoke appetizer all from scratch. It was so delicious. We took our class at Touch Bistro and then came back the next night for the restaurant’s dinner. Even more delicious, but not as rewarding.

Cappuccinos

An afternoon Cappuccino was a must. Sitting in gorgeous piazzas with a warm and rich cappuccino to give you an afternoon energy boost. What could be better? I am not a coffee drinker but that changes in Europe. It is just too good to pass up.

My parents had raved about Florence for all my life and it certainly does live up to the hype. I am so thankful for the wonderful experiences there and they have created the fondest memories. Grazie, Florence.

Travel with Dyl: Rome

Looking through pictures and reminiscing has brought me back to my family’s wonderful trip to Italy, Winter Break 2018-19. We visited Venice, Florence, and Rome. I loved this trip so much and can’t wait to relive it while writing these posts. Rome was a fascinating city filled with incredible architecture and history as well as the best eggplant parmesan in the world. Once again, all photos were taken by yours truly.

Favorite Meals

Ristorante 34

Discovered by my mom in 1995, we send all our friends and family here. The jolly owner, Nicola is a frequent Chicago visitor and the place feels so welcoming and authentic. The eggplant parmesan is to die for and it all just feels so very Italian.

Bella Carne

Never did I think I would have the best matzo ball soup of my life in Rome. Bella Carne is located in the heart of the Roman Jewish ghetto. The Jewish cuisine was comforting and so warm on that terribly cold day.

Hostaria da Pietro

We were the only non-Italian customers in the entire restaurant. A spot for locals who like their food authentic and delicious. The adorable twin brother owners also happened to be frequent Chicago visitors and enjoy attending Lollapalooza. It’s a small world.

Sites

Trevi Fountain

After visiting I could see what made this fountain so crowded. It was stunning. A true display of Italian art and beauty. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for my wish to come true.

Vatican City

I’m not even going to get into the fact that I was dumbfounded to learn this is a separate country. I will say though, for the smallest country in the world, the Vatican City sure has a lot of history packed inside. We spent hours roaming St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and staring up in awe at Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel.

Colosseum

It’s really wild to process that this massive amphitheatre was built in 70 A.D. Walking around inside and admiring from the outside was incredible. Although the Colosseum was a place of bloodshed, it is a standing wonder.

Tempio Maggiore di Roma

This absolutely gorgeous synagogue is the temple I want to belong to. Touring the largest synagogue in Rome educated me more on life in the Roman ghetto during the time of World War II.

More Fun

Palm Trees

I would have never guessed that upon arrival with my winter coat that I would be roaming streets with palm trees. Rome is southern enough to house palm trees, which I still don’t really understand because some days in Rome were freezing. The trees aren’t native to Rome, but they have learned to survive.

Gelato

What is a post about Italy without a mention of gelato? Gelato became a post-meal necessity. I was never much of a gelato fan prior to my trip but it is so flavorful how could I resist? This particular cone was from a small chain called Venchi and was delicious. I saw the same chain out of the corner of my eye a year later in Tokyo and raced to get inside but they were closing. It was a sad walk home.

Christmas Lights

The most magical part about being in Italy during the holidays were the street lights. Beautiful arrangements lined all the streets, keeping them alive at night. It was so gorgeous sometimes I just stopped for a while to admire them.

Every trip I am fortunate enough to take is where I learn the most about the world but also myself. I create a new connection with each city explored and love them forever. Hopefully, when I return to Rome it will be a bit warmer and will make each cone of gelato a bit sweeter.

Podcasts For Everyone

In the past few weeks, I have found myself listening to podcasts on walks, putting away laundry, or even doing homework. Without being able to socialize with a wide range of people like usual it is nice to hear a conversation between other people and feel like you are a part of it. Here are the Podcasts that have kept me engaged and make time move quicker.

The Daily

The biggest news stories of the day explained in an easy to understand and efficient fashion. The host Michael Barbaro of the New York Times has the most soothing and calm voice that draws me in and keeps me comfortable with all the crazy news being told. A great way to get your news that is not too overwhelming.

The Morning Toast

Instagram personality Girl With No Job and her sister Jackie O deliver the best celebrity news with the funniest commentary. They talk all things celebrity, social media, and entertainment. They start with the fast 5 stories and then proceed into tv recaps where they discuss all types of reality tv shows new episodes. They are so funny and the show is fast-paced and engaging.

Stuff You Should Know

This the most random but awesome podcast out there. Each episode is dedicated to something completely different that you should or might want to know. The episodes subjects range from talking about bidets and how they came to be, to teaching about how herd immunity works in light of the pandemic. I can guarantee you will find an episode that interests you.

Cults

Based on the bizarre suggestion of my friend Simone to write a full piece on Cults and those that intrigue me, I wondered what is it about cults that are so intriguing? I knew there had to be a podcast about it. As you can see by the name, it was an easy find. This show dedicates each episode to a different cult (sometimes in 2 parts) explaining what went on inside and more specifically, what goes on inside the minds of people who join cults and leaders who start them.

TED Talks Daily

Almost all students hate to admit it but get excited when a teacher plays a TED Talk in class. I can openly admit that I watch TED Talks after school for fun. With this podcast, I can listen to some of the best talks while doing other activities. I have been having so much fun with this. The episodes are all under 20 minutes so they are great for a shorter task when you don’t want to get bored.

Casefile True Crime

My exploration of crime podcasts came from my good friend Molly and her inordinate obsession with Criminal Minds. Too scared to watch crime shows, listening provided a less chilling alternative. The narrator is incredible and I still can’t listen right before bed as every time I am crawling with goosebumps. Each episode dives into a new case and tells these wild stories in the most haunting way.

Why Does Everyone Love SoundCloud?

While most teens regularly use Apple Music and Spotify to stream music daily, most have SoundCloud on their phone for an occasional browse. Lately, more and more teens are switching to SoundCloud premium and are leaving their more conventional listening services behind. SoundCloud is the youtube for audio, anyone can upload what they want for others to listen. You can of course still hear more established artists on the app as well. Many rappers and DJ’s get their start on SoundCloud and later move onto larger platforms and studios.

What makes this app so special is that people can post their mashups/remixes and covers to make you hear a familiar song in a new way. I personally use Spotify but often find myself going to SoundCloud for mood-lifting mashups or mellowing slowed versions of my favorite songs. Occasionally, I stumble upon a new artist that is not on Spotify and spend hours listening and saving their music to my playlist.

Teens take music very seriously and love sharing songs they think highly of with friends. As more and more SoundCloud links get shared the more the services following grows. After a while, teens grow sick of the ads keeping them from instant access to the next song and become members. SoundCloud has become a more prevalent way of listening to music for me and I foresee that its popularity will not slow down. I have so many awesome memories with friends connected to SoundCloud songs that I can’t hear anywhere else. It is cool that anyone can release these tracks that make up the soundtrack of my life.

Instagram Is A Highlight Reel

I promised myself when I created this platform that I would share authentic content that I think other teenagers should hear. During this dull time as I scroll through my Instagram looking at all of my favorite accounts, I noticed a sense of jealousy had slipped away. Other than the occasional yummy looking banana bread or sunny weather picture, I don’t envy anyone as I typically do.

This got me to thinking about my pre-corona feed. Sitting and watching those I follow travel to my dream destination or fall in love creates a false sense of reality. I am very fortunate to live in the way I do and can honestly admit that even my own Instagram account showcases only positive moments. I constantly have to remind myself that people put onto the internet only what they desire. Just because someone is running around Italy in couture does not mean they have it all together. The highlight reel portrays the idea that Instagram is a way of showcasing the best parts of one’s life. This is evident as my feed blows up after homecoming or during winter break. We are trained to share the glamorous parts of our lives. Part of this semi-exposure is what makes Instagram so fun. I can look back on my own and others achievements and incredible memories. Looking back has become a popular past-time for me as I stay at home in which I have developed a sense of jealousy for my own life. This feeling has made me so content and thankful. I hope this serves as a reminder that what you see online whether a celebrity or friend you are looking at just bits and pieces of someone’s existence. I encourage you to unfollow any accounts that repeatedly make you feel insecure or upset and use Instagram in a way that spreads positivity. We should work towards being jealous of our own lives, rather than others.

Fun & Free At Home Workouts

The desire to stay under the covers and in your sweats is almost all-consuming these days, but to counter the quarantine diet it is important to do the occasional workout. I’ve put together a list of awesome workouts that are actually enjoyable and aren’t just sitting doing ab workouts on a mat. Although staying healthy is important, working out should not become an added stress at this time, you don’t need to always be productive. It’s okay to take this time to rest.

CLI Studios

@clistudios on Instagram keeps a packed schedule of masterclasses with phenomenal dance teachers. The classes are on Instagram live on the account at the time the schedule indicates. The classes are advanced but you are in the comfort of your own home where nobody is watching. These classes provide awesome cardio for current and retired dancers.

Sculpt Society

There are so many ways to access Sculpt Society content. The first of which is signing up for their 14-day free trial. You can also check @meganroups Instagram for frequent sculpt live classes that stay up for 24 hours. There are also a few classes on youtube if you search up “Sculpt Society” The workouts range from dance cardio to sculpting movements but always are super fun.

Isaac Boots

@isaacboots on Instagram goes live on his account every day at 11 am EST. The lives stay up for 24 hours but he also keeps many on his account permanently as IGTVs. The workout is a ton of targeted repetition and body resistance that burns but feels great. The fun does not come from the workout but rather Isaac and his awesome energy and personality.

CorePower Yoga

“CorePower Yoga” on youtube has youtube lives saved onto their account on demand. They have all their typical classes like sculpt and meditations. An awesome way to relax and break a sweat with knowledgable teachers.

305 Fitness

“305 Fitness” on youtube also has youtube lives saved on demand. 305 fitness is a collection of studios across the country that do awesome dance cardio classes. The classes are full of energy. You might feel a little stupid but it’s important to get into it and remember no one is watching.

Shop To Support COVID-19 Relief

With many of us safe at home, we must remember those on the front lines going to work every day and those whose financial state is in extreme jeopardy. For those of us at a standstill, wanting to help but not sure how to from our homes, I have compiled a list of online stores that are contributing to COVID-19 relief with each purchase. With so much time on our hands and our desire to shop 24/7, I encourage you to invest in companies who are investing in society.

Allbirds

Allbirds shoes are known to be incredibly comfortable and environmentally friendly. The brand has already donated $500,000 worth of shoes to healthcare professionals. Additionally, if you purchase any pair of Allbirds shoes they will immediately donate a pair of wool runners to a healthcare professional who is on their feet all day.

Dyson

Dyson engineers have designed and began manufacturing ventilators with Dyson’s digital motor at its heart. The company plans to make at least 15,000 ventilators for COVID-19 patients. You can support Dyson’s awesome work by purchasing anything from a hairdryer to a vacuum cleaner.

Nike

Nike has committed more than $17 million to COVID-19 efforts around the world. In researching for this post it was clear to see that Nike has given a lot in relation to other companies of their magnitude. They are also manufactory PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as full face shields and lenses to protect against the coronavirus. Get some workout gear or new shoes to be excited about when we can go out again.

Modern Citizen

$20 from an $150+ order of amazing basics will be donated directly to Feeding America’s COVID-19 response fund. Support hunger relief by shopping Modern Citizen.

Crocs

Crocs is donating a pair to any healthcare worker on the frontlines that wants them. These easy to clean and comfortable shoes are ideal. Summer is coming, get a pair of crocs or some Jibbitz charms to decorate your pair. With all this free time you can even customize your own Jibbitz on the site.

Ralph Lauren

If you’re looking to splurge at least feel good about it. Ralph Lauren recently started the production of 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has committed their scientists and labs to working on COVID-19 treatments and a possible vaccine. They have also donated $50 million to healthcare workers across the country. Neutrogena, Aveeno, Bandaid brand, and Tylenol are all examples of Johnson & Johnson products.

Reformation

Reformation has the cutest dresses and denim for summer. Reformation has completely turned their factories into mask production centers. They make about 100,000 masks each week. Help clean out their stock as a token of appreciation.

Hanes

Hanes has committed to producing 320 million FDA approved masks in the coming weeks. Purchase some underwear or a couple of tank tops to support their awesome work.

These are just a few of countless brands who have supported the ongoing relief effort. theyoungadult thanks all those putting themselves at risk daily to help others. Please stay safe!

Travel with Dyl: Osaka

The final city on our wonderful Japan trip was Osaka. We spent one night here. I felt so at home in Osaka and can easily say it was my favorite city we visited. Walking around on New Year’s Eve at night was magical.

Osaka Castle

One of Japans most famous landmarks, Osaka Castle is gorgeous. Due to the holiday, we couldn’t get inside but it was fun to see.

Umeda Sky Building

An amazing viewing point to see the beauty of Osaka and a little bit of Kyoto. It was windy but seeing the sprawling city in the daytime was incredible.

Dotonbori District

This was my favorite place in all of Japan. With its eccentric atmosphere and large illuminated signs, this is what comes to mind when you think of the country. Walking through the crowded street at night was incredible. I danced to music and joined an impromptu circle of people singing in Japanese. The prime Dotonbori street should be the street food capital of the world. So many yummy things, we had to try them all. Here are my favorites.

Takoyaki

Simply put, pieces of octopus covered in pancake batter. A hot savory treat. Yum!

Okonomiyaki

A delicious savory pancake, they throw it on a grill in front of you and you divvy it up. This was so delicious. The first Okonomiyaki place in Chicago just opened and I am dying to try it.

Yakisoba

A Japanese noodle stir fry I had only heard of because of my good friend Jordyn’s addiction to it at our local Japanese place. The authentic Osaka version resembled it faintly but, the noodles were thicker and full of flavor.

Revolving Sushi

Revolving sushi is all over Japan but there are a ton of little places in Osaka. The labeled sushi moves around on a conveyor belt and more plates are constantly being added. You just take the plates you want to eat and at the end of the meal, they count the plates and charge you from there. A great lunch with a little of everything.

Each city I visited in Japan offered something different. I could not have been more in love with the country, the culture and the people. I am so thankful I was able to take this trip before all the current madness in the world. I am itching to get on a plane soon.

Travel with Dyl: Kyoto

Kyoto looked like a Japanese movie set. Kyoto was a more quiet and traditional city. There is no lack of preservation of culture. I often think about those who live in Kyoto. How their lives must be full of such raw traditional influence and what pride that gives them.

Favorite Meals

Sushi Fukagawa Ryuji

Our only omakase meal (the chef decides what he puts in front of you) in Kyoto was eye-opening. Unlike Tokyo, the sushi in Kyoto was artsier with toppings and seasonings. The chef was adorable and so sweet. We ate blowfish here and then later found out only a few chefs were certified to serve it as parts of the fish are poisonous. So poisonous that one blowfish has enough toxins to kill 30 adult humans. So fun!

Gion Mikaku

Benihana in Japan! The most delicious wagyu beef with fried rice and veggies. We were so stuffed and smelly.

Daimaru Food Floor

Located under a luxury department store is a sprawling food court. We liked it so much we went again. A quick lunch where we could get anything under the sun. Fresh pastries, bread, pizza, dumplings, sushi, yakitori, and tons of dessert. My favorite lunches on the whole trip. I love a little taste of everything.

Favorite Snacks

Matcha Swirl

Matcha and vanilla soft serve swirl was to die for. The sweetness of the vanilla with the bitter matcha was perfect. I ate it up quick.

Melonpan

A Japanese sweet bun. The perfect pull-apart snack to get at any market or street stand. You can get them with a scoop of ice cream in the middle as well. So yummy!

Rolled Ice Cream

Rolled Ice Cream started in Asia and it’s obvious they do it best. I got Oreo and it was presented so cute without me having to ask. I was surprised to discover a frosted flake like cereal layer at the bottom of the cup that was so yummy with the then melted ice cream.

Sites

Golden Pavilion

A zen buddhist temple with a heavy crowd. The temple shines and reflects beautifully on the water. The photo does not do it justice.

Ginkakuji Temple

Although not silver, it is commonly known as the silver pavilion. With water, a zen garden, and a great view this was a gorgeous place to visit.

Gion

Gion is a district in Kyoto that is preserved so wonderfully. Traditional residential and commercial architecture as well as a gorgeous temple towering over it.

Fushimi Inari – taisha Shrine

A shinto shrine where people pray for success in business as well as wealth. With 10,000 red torii gates paid for by individual businesses looking for success. The walk was long but really interesting.

More Fun

Rickshaw Ride

A rickshaw is a two-wheel hooded vehicle pulled by one or more people. Ours was pulled by an awesome driver who went by the name “bananas”. The rickshaw ride was a fun and relaxing way to explore the bamboo forest of Kyoto.

Meeting with Maiko

Geisha, iconic of Kyoto are known for their wit, beauty, and high caliber skills in traditional Japanese arts. Young girls who wish to become geisha must leave home and start their training at fourteen years old to become a Maiko (geisha in training) We got to have a private tea party with a Maiko and learn about her life as she strives to become a Geisha. We also saw her perform a Japanese song and dance. She was adorable and I didn’t want to leave. The way they invest themselves in this from such a young age is incredible.

I loved Kyoto and learned so much about Japanese culture there. Kyoto is Japan in its most real form.

Travel with Dyl: Hakone

After the first few busy days in Tokyo adjusting to the wild 14 hour time change a drive to the remote city of Hakone was a perfect one night trip for some relaxation.

Gora Brewery

On the way to our Ryokan, we stopped for lunch at Gora Brewery. Gora Brewery is Nobu’s brewery and restaurant near his Hakone vacation home. Unlike the other Nobu’s across the globe, this one was small and casual, like the nice restaurant in any little neighborhood. We were excited to see Gora Brewery had all the Nobu favorites like crispy rice + spicy tuna and the yellowtail jalapeño.

Yama No Chaya

Yama No Chaya was the ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that we stayed in for one night. Situated on a mountain and over a waterfall escaping bridge is the hotel. When we entered we were immediately greeted by staff who asked us to take off our shoes at the entrance. We did not get our shoes back until our departure the next day. The rooms are minimalistic with a bathroom, seating area, and a small table with floor mats. At night, the table is put away and the staff pull out a very comfortable Japanese futon mattress on the floor to sleep on as well as buckwheat pillows. Additionally, our rooms had a porch with a private onsen. There were a few large public onsens split by gender that we visited around the hotel. Onsens are Japanese hot springs. The onsens were very relaxing.

Kaiseki

Ryokan eating is unlike anything I’ve ever had before. We ate all together sitting on floor mats in one of our rooms. Ryokans serve Kaiseki style meals which are multi-course meals with tons of mini dishes. Each dish is so intricate and placed so nicely. I can’t imagine what the kitchen must go through making hundreds of small dishes. We had this for dinner and a lighter version for breakfast. So yummy!

Hakone was full of culture and showed a more traditional side of Japan. This was like nothing I had experienced before.