Parissssss

I spent this past weekend in Paris with Zach. When we first got there, we decided to just walk around and see where we end up. With our good luck, this stray walk dropped us right into the Eiffel tower. It was so cool to see it for the first time. It was so breathtaking.  It is such an icon that I have heard about and seen pictures, but seeing it in person was something else. We went back on our last night at sunset and went all the way to the top. It was cold but well worth it. You have to go to the top when you go to Paris. The view was incredible. Paris really is so beautiful, so seeing it from the top was amazing. The next day we got a really early start and went straight to the Louvre. Seeing the pyramid in person was another cool sight. We saw the Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which was so small and overrated. I thought it was stupid that people make such a fuss about it. After the Louvre, we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was beautiful. One of the most amazing churches I have seen abroad. I lit two candles for my dad. After that, we ran into the love lock bridge. We bought a lock from a guy selling it and wrote our names on it. We then headed over to the Luxembourg garden. It was so beautiful and relaxing. We just sat in chairs and laid in the sun. After that, we went to a cafe and got a bite to eat and some wine. We went back and chilled at the hotel and then went to this restaurant that everyone tells me to go to. They serve you wine out of baby bottles and it is cheese fonude. The concept was cool and interesting but it was kind of gross. It was a hole in the wall with graffiti splashed all over the walls. The next day we took a boat cruise which was a great way to see all of the sights. After that, we walked on over to the Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomph. The Arc was huge!! The Champs Elysees was a really cool street. It was more down scale than I thought it would be. The Abercrombie and Fitch was so nice and there was a line to get into it! We went to a really good dinner that night and hate cheese, wine and creps. We felt very french. The next day we just explored the city and went cafe hopping. I loved Paris and could definitely see myself living there. 

 

 

 

I loved the vibes. Everyone was so laid back and just chilled at cafes all day long.

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Green EVERYWHERE!- DUBLIN for St. Patty’s day!!

Dublin was awesome!! It was so pretty. All the people are so nice and merry. From the minute we got there, we felt how warm the people were. The cab driver helped us find a hotel in the heart of the city. We had booked a hotel prior to our trip, right by the airport. We were trying to save money, but didn’t think about the fact that we were going to have to pay for cab fare to and from the city. We got a hotel for cheap and ended up staying in the conference room! It was the only available room. We took a hop on and off bus tour. We saw all the sites including Trinity College, St. Patricks Cathedral, Dublin Castle, The Guinness Storehouse, Christ Church Cathedral etc.. It was rainy so my pictures didn’t turn out as well as they could have. After seeing all of these amazing sights, we stopped at a pub on the other side of the river. The river divides the north and south. The southern part was the part that we stayed in. It has more life and a lot more going on. We wanted to check out the other side. It was much quieter and more residential. At this pub, we ate chicken wings for the 4th time that weekend and it was only Friday! I don’t know why we loved them so much there. We then went shopping for St. Pattys day attire. We went to a store with 2 floors that were both filled to the brim with green and white. It was packed and very hard to move. I got all the gear I needed and we went on our way. Afterwards, we went to this pub where we saw a bunch of our friends from Barcelona. It was really fun. After a while, we were exhausted and went back to the hotel for a nap. That night we went downstairs of our hotel. There was this pub that was poppin’. We only stayed there for a beer or two and then proceeded back up to our hotel room. We had to wake up early to start the St. Patty’s day festivities. We woke up around 9 or 10 and started gearing up. I wore a green headband with two antlers on top in the shape of a shamrock. I also wore a scarf that read IRELAND on it with a green sweatshirt and a green and grey St. Patty’s day T-shirt. I also wore dark green jeans. I then layered the necklaces. The colors of their flag are orange, green, and white. I wore multiple beaded necklaces. One of them had a green shot glass attached. Not going to lie, I probably took a shot or two out of it before it broke off and fell onto the streets of Dublin. I was very festive and dressed for the occasion. We spent the day pub hopping and going in and out of the pub to watch the parade. The parade reminded me of the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. There were a lot of floats and people dancing in the streets and on top of the floats. It was cool to see everyone in the streets dancing and being merry. It was crazy! So many people and so much beer. I made a few Irish friends. They were so nice and we had a mutual interest in getting to know what life was like for the other person. I can’t believe that people actually live in Dublin. I feel like nothing would ever get done! Maybe it was just the fact that we were there on the craziest weekend. That night we went to another pub. This one was the famous pub of Dublin. It was called O’neils. Here I took an Irish Car Bomb. It is a famous drink in Dublin, and very good. It reminded me of a saki bomb. You drop a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream into a glass of beer and chug. I also danced with the Irish. There was a band there playing Irish music and my friend and I decided to jump into the circle and dance with them. It was very fun and sweaty. The irish really know how to dance.

The coolest part of Dublin are the colored doors. Most doors in Dublin are bright colors. It was cool to be on the bus tour and see doors that were yellow, purple, red and green.

On Sunday, we went to the Guinness factory. We saw how they make beer. It was really cool because that is the popular beer in Dublin (it comes from Dublin). After the tour, we walked to the top of the Guinness factory and saw the view of Dublin. I tend to make a point to do this while I travel. Up at the top, they give you a free beer with entry to the museum. At this point, we were kind of beered out and decided to opt out of the free beer. We then went back to the hotel and went to the airport. It was a great weekend and one that I will definitely remember forever!

Czech me out

Prague was great! There is so much history. It was beautiful and the weather was perfect. I was nervous about the weather because my friends have said it has hit below zero in the past few weeks, but it was 50 degrees and sunny the entire time. Right when we got there, we immediately went to lunch because we were so hungry. We went to this place called Bakeshop. It had everything. I got a salad and half a sandwich. This is where I discovered how bizarre crowns are. It is so hard to make the exchange from euros. 1,000 crowns= 50 dollars. It is crazy walking around with a bill that says 2,000 on it. Afterwards, we went to the Charles Bridge and the astronomical clock. It is located in the old town square. It dates back to 1410. This is the oldest astronomical clock still working. We also hiked up to the Prague castle and went to the John Lennon wall. The John Lennon wall was really cool. It is a huge wall with all of this graffiti. It was started when Lennon died. People paid their condolences by writing Beatles lyrics etc. Now, anyone can paint on it. I wrote my dad’s name on it, which was comforting. We also went to the Jewish quarter (Josefov). I saw the old jewish cemetery. It is the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe. We saw the Pinkas Synagogue. This is now used as a memorial for Holocaust victims. Our last stop was the Jewish Town Hall (rococo hall). 

At night, we went to this 5 story club called Karlovy Lazne. Each floor played a different genre of music. The first floor is called the music cafe. It is designed in the style of “main flow.” People can surf the net on this floor. The next floor up is the discotheque. This floor is all electornic music. There are sick lights and sound effects. There is a 5m x 2m video wall and an interactive wall, laser statues, hypercube and other cool effects. The next floor up is kaleidoscope. It is devoted to ageless oldies. We spent the most time on this floor. We danced the night away to the tunes of The Beach Boys and Madonna. The 4th floor is paradogs. This is the R’N’B and hip hope floor. The last floor is the chill out. There are huge gold couches where you can just lounge and sit back, drink, and relax.

We late night ate cheese balls. Everyone says that when you go to Prague, you have to eat one of these. It was really good, but was a little overrated in my book.

I could definitely see myself studying abroad here. The city is beautiful and there are so many sights to see. The nightlife is crazy, too. I met a ton of people and overall, it was one of my favorite weekends while studying abroad.

When in Rome…

We took a train from Florence to Rome. It was short and not very scenic. When we got to Rome I went with Susie to her friend from home’s apartment. It snowed in rome for the first time since 1992 so all the cabs weren’t working. They claimed they didn’t know how to drive in the snow. It was horrible. The whole city like shut down. It was annoying and hard to go anywhere but very cool to witness Rome in the snow. After we got to the apartment, we went to the Roman Forum. It was cool to see the ruins. There is so much history in rome. It would be a cool place to study abroad. After that we went to the collesium. It was really cool. I see so many pictures of it and it was cool to be right there. It was where the gladiators fought. A fun fact is that there was so much blood that it had to go somewhere so they invented the drainage system to get rid of the blood. We also saw the Spanish steps when we first got off the metro. I didn’t realize what it was but took a picture anyways. We then went and got a slice of pizza. It was amazing. Just as good as I knew it would be. It was a cute little shop where everyone is standing around eating pizza out of a brown paper bag wrapped around it. The girls I was with got some yummy fried doughy dessert. It was great also. It was super cold so we went back to the apartment to warm up.

It was miserably cold and hard to go sightseeing, but I stuck it out and knew I had to see it all and fit it all in. I was dedicated to taking it all in. We then went to the Vatican. It was cool to see. The pope didn’t come out though. It was too snowy, so he stayed in! The Vatican was pretty beautiful. I then took a cab by myself to the hostel. It was gross but very cheap, so it was well worth it. I took a shower and had trouble leaving the shower because the hot water felt so good after being out in the cold for so long! We then went to the best restaurant in rome. Its called Tonys and was amazing. It was such a scene though. Everyone that was visiting went there. I walked in and saw the entire jewish population from the east coast. We ate fried calamari that I didn’t really care for. We also got chicken parmasan and penne vodka. We got a lot of wine for free. We also got free dessert. There were no cabs, so we couldn’t find a way to get to the club that our friends were going to. We gave up on trying to find transportation, and figured it wasn’t worth it. We ended up going to this restaurant and got a few drinks with the Arizona boys. We stayed out for a while. We couldn’t get a cab home so we hitchhiked. I was with the Arizona boys and this guy in a brown Mercedes picked us up and it was super shady. When we woke up in the morning we went to this restaurant and got what was called an “American breakfast.” It was stupid of us but it was really great. It was eggs and pancakes and then we split a waffle with nutella it was AMAZING! We then left for the airport. On the way to the airport I found this graffiti on a wall. All of my friends call me ZAS and I saw it sprayed on a building. I immediately stopped the cab and ran out to take a picture. After I got my picture, I hopped back in the cab and proceeded to the airport. 

All in all Rome was a great trip. I would love to go there sometime when it is nicer out.

Firenze

So we get to Florence and it was already kind of bizarre that the plane didn’t pull up right to the gate. We had to take a smelly bus with everyone packed in like sardines. When we get in the cab and we tell the driver we are from America he played “god bless the usa” which was so funny. He was trying to make us feel like we are home. We finally got to Jackie’s apartment. It was amazing. It was the biggest thing I have ever seen. Jackie took us to Za za’s which was really good. I got pizza because I felt like I had to in italy. It was AMAZING pizza! When we got back to the apartment we got dressed. We then went to a pregame where I saw a lot of my friends from college.  It was really fun and good to see people. After that we went to the club which was not that much fun. It was really small and just had a bunch of VIP rooms. After a not so great night at the club we walked 1 whole hour home on the cobblestone in my heels and tank top. We walked with a large group of guys, but still it was horrible. They don’t take cabs in Florence. I don’t understand why but Jackie said she does this every night. When we woke up in the morning, we went to The Diner which was really good. It was all American food which I am kind of missing here in Barcelona. I got a salad with feta (my favorite) yumm. It was such a scene! I saw everyone I knew. I even saw Susie (my roommate in Barcelona). In Florence you see everyone because it is so small.

After lunch we went to the Duomo (Florence Cathedral). It was really beautiful.  Overall I don’t think that Florence was that pretty but the duomo is amazing and blew me away. It has a gothic style and was completed in 1436. It is topped with a huge dome. Inside it looks like a normal church, but 30 times the size of one. There are these candles that you can light for a loved one who is gone. At the time, I had felt lucky because no one I had known had died. Jill lit it for her grandparents. Jackie and I lit it for the troops in Iraq. I wish I could go back and light one for my dad. We then hiked up halfway. It was a tiring hike. We didn’t go the whole way because it was really high up and a lot of steps but halfway was still a strenuous hike. After that we went to the Ponte Vecchio which is pretty but it is so famous and overrated. It is just a bridge with a bunch of nice jewelry shops on it. After that we went to their main department store.We also made a wish at this famous pig. You rub the nose and throw a penny in the pigs mouth and it slides down with water into a drain. Then we went to astor which is a cute coffe/wine shop. Jackie said people go there to pregame a lot. We got a glass of wine and just chilled. We then went to this restaautrant acqua al due. They are famous for their blueberry steak which of course I had to get. I feel like I don’t get enough meat in Barcelona because the meat kind of grosses me out. The steak was really good it didn’t really taste like Blueberrys.

After dinner we went to the club. It was an okay club. A lot of locals go there. We hung out with all Barcelona people and Jackie. We might as well have been at a club in Barcelona. When we tried leaving the club Jill wasn’t allowed. We were so confused. The deal was that when you walk in they give you a ticket and you have to hang onto it. Luckily, I put mine in my purse even though I thought it was just a promoter giving me something I didn’t want. Jill lost hers. She ended up having to pay 50 euros to physically get her body out of the club.  It was ridiculous. Took a toll on our night. When we got home I passed out and I felt bad but Jackie slept on the hard floor while Jill and I got the bed. We woke up in the morning and took a train to Rome. The train was an hour and a half.

Interlacken, Switzerland

My first trip out of Barcelona was to interlocken, Switzerland.

We flew into Geneva and then a bus from our program took us to the hostel. It was a 2 and a half hour bus ride. It wasn’t too bad. The hostel is pretty nice for a hostel. The bathrooms aren’t gross and the beds are clean. It is called Balmers. I am in a 10 person room with all of my friends. My roommates in Barcelona and Amanda’s Barcelona roommates. We all set our alarms for 7:45 to sign up for activities and to get the day going. We ate breakfast. It was free at the hostel. It was pretty good.  I went canyon jumping during the day and night sledding that night. I went skiing the next day.

We stayed at a hostel called balmers. It was gross and reminded me of camp but such a great experience. And a lot of people we knew were staying there also. I LOVE Switzerland. It is beautiful. The mountains are incredible. Canyon jumping was amazing. We drove all the way up the Swiss alps and then hiked the rest until we got to a ledge. There were 8 of us and everyone was crying and freaking out. I was surprisingly very chill about the whole thing. I loved every minute of it. It was the most exhilarating thing of my entire life. You are attached to a bungie cord and then you jump off a cliff and there is a 15-20 seconds drop where you just free fall. After that you swing back and forth for a minute or two. That part was so cool. You are just swinging in between 2 huge mountains. One of the mountains was the Igor which is famous for its breathtaking look and for the north side. The north side is called The North Face (like the clothing company). That was very cool. When I got home from canyon jumping we walked around Interlocken for a while. One of the tour guides from our program took us around. He showed us the nicest hotel in Switzerland and a bunch of different landmarks. One of them being the Metropole Hotel. When you go to the top it has a breathtaking view. I took lots of pictures. I kind of drifted and lost my friends and the tour guide. I looked around and no one was there anymore. I was busy talking to the waiters who were really interested in Obama. They wanted to know about the capitols of every state etc. It was really interesting. It was so scary. I had no idea where I was or what to do. I found my way back to the hostel and found Hannah Aaronson thank god. My friends were freaking out and I didn’t bring my phone. They walked around forever to try and find me and never did. I finally found them when I was with Hannah. It was scary but ended up being fine.

Friday night we went night sledding down the Swiss alps. It was scary. It was dark and if you drifted over to the side too much you could tumble down the mountain. It was so fun though. It took us 45 minutes to get down. It was such a great experience but very scary. After that the tour guides took us to cheese fondue. It was Swiss cheese. It was realllllly good.

Saturday morning I woke up early and took ski lessons with Jill and Molly. I was actually pretty good. Our instructor was not very patient with us. She thought we were too old to not know how to ski. Kids here start skiing when they come out of the womb. She was from New Zealand and spending her summer here being a ski instructor. We got good enough to go on one of the bigger mountains at the end. I was exhausted. It was a very eventful weekend and I am so happy I got to do everything that I did. It was such an experience.

I got my Poppy a black Swiss army knife and all of my family swiss chocolate. I hope they all like it!

The flight to and from Switzerland was amazing. We got free sandwiches, chocolate, and unlimited bottles of wine. They treated us amazing. American flights suck. They are so cheap and barely give you a cup of water. I stocked up on the chocolates.

SpanAir went bankrupt while we were in Switzerland so Sloan and Erika’s flights were obviously cancelled. They had to pay for all new flights. Trish booked her flight to go home a month from the day we were actually going. Their apartment had their issues but we all got back to Barcelona in one piece!

The Best Is Yet To Come- Beginning of Barcelona

Okay so I got here Wednesday January, 11th. The flight was rough because obviously I didn’t sleep and everyone else did. For those of you readers that are unaware, I have some sleeping issues. When we got to Barcelona, Jill and I had to wait a couple hours for Susie and Ilana to get there. When they got here we were picked up and driven to our apt. Sightseeing on the way was amazing. The buildings here are actually beautiful. We live in the gothic area and so it’s old Barcelona. When we got to the apartment I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was!! The only scary thing is it’s down an alleyway. I thought it would be scary at night but it wasn’t when Jill and I got home at 5:00 am last night (but really this morning).

We have our own elevator that goes right to our apt.- Gossip Girl style. Jill and I are sharing a room. Ilana and Sarah and Susie got her own room because Shana didn’t end up coming. I love all of my roommates! After we got settled into our apartment we were taken on a tour of our neighborhood by Kristina. She is kind of our landlord but we call her our house-mom. She showed us all the farmacia’s, grocery stores, restaurants, banks etc. in our area. We are really close to the main street called Las Ramblas. It is an amazing street with so much life. It has a gazillion restaurants, marketplaces, stores, street performers, etc. We went to this restaurant with tapas. Tapas are the main dish here and what we ate was kind of gross. It was bread with a bunch of fish on top. Kind of made me nauseous. After that we got drawers to unpack our clothing into and extra keys made.

Waking up for orientation after my first night out was a struggle but we went and we really didn’t need to. We shall see. I slept when I got home from orientation. I don’t want to be hungover everyday because I want to see Barcelona and experience it. I want to take in all the sights. I had an excuse though, I am still pretty jetlagged and anytime I can sleep I should take full advantage.

A few of the things I have noticed since I got here are that everyone rides around on mopeds and motorcycles, the people are super friends and the majority of the people speak at least a little english.

The second day of our trip, Jill and I wanted to meet Hannah Aaronson for lunch. She recommended this restaurant called Bo De B which is supposed to be amazing. We looked up the address and hoped in a cab. It ended up being a 30 second walk away from our apartment. Very embarrassing!! It was a little hole in the wall but it was really great. After that we went to Parc Guell. It was actually an amazing sight to see. It was built by Antoni Gaudi who was a famous architect in Barcelona. He built a lot of the gorgeous buildings here. It looks similar to Disney World. You walk to the top and see a beautiful view of Barcelona.

The day after we walked around to try and get the hang of the city. We went to Cathedral de Barcelona which is a beautiful church. It is really close to our apartment! It is where the Archbishop of Barcelona sits. It is crazy how old these buildings are. The ceiling inside the church is amazingly beautiful.

We got really lucky with the location of our apartment. It is a 5 minute walk from the beach and is also a 20 minute walk from school (CEA). Our area is really cool. We live in Barrio Gotico which is the old city. It has a lot of cute boutiques, restaurants and bars. It is a maize though. It is very easy to get lost in it.

I am taking Fashion: A Mirror of Our Times, Journalism 2.0, Global Competence, and  Photojournalism. I love all my classes. I couldn’t have asked for a better schedule or better classes.

Next Post: Interlocken, Switzerland!