Pictures from Spain!

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BARCA baby!

It’s Tuesday afternoon and we just got our wi-fi back in our apartment! SO exciting! We’ve been without Internet since last Tuesday night and have had to go to bars/cafes with hotspots in order to just check emails! There has been so much I’ve wanted to blog about but couldn’t because of no Internet. Last weekend I traveled to Barcelona, Spain and drank lots of sangria and ate lots of calamari. Delish! Our hostel hosted a mojito night on Friday so we went there for some cheap drinks then went to a club. Luckily, our friend who is studying there had told us a Spanish phrase to say at the door otherwise we wouldn’t have been let in…either because we were American or extremely underdressed I’m not sure. We were like the only people in the club so we obviously got the party started by being the first to dance!! It wasn’t until 2:30-3 that the place filled up – European time is too crazy for me!

Saturday morning we took a very long walk around the city and visited Park Guell, which has the most scenic views of the city and you can just see the Mediterranean over the buildings. As I said, the walk there was really long so we got some waters and sat at a picnic table for a couple hours, just taking in the sun and view. It was the first time we felt warm sunshine since we’ve been here!

The view from Park Guell

The view from Park Guell

We left the Park to see La Segrada Familia a huge church in Barcelona that’s typically under construction. It was ENORMOUS and the architecture was so unique and just really different than any of the churches in Italy. That night we went out for more tapas and I had fried calamari that was the best I’ve ever had! So fresh and SO GOOD! We went to a couple bars that night and found this place called Chupitos which means “shots” in Spanish. The place had over 500 kinds of shots and probably over 500 people in the tiny place. We squeezed our way to the bar and got the most delicious shots that were chased with marshmallows that we roasted ON THE BAR! Ok enough about my night life…I know you don’t want to hear it mom..

Sunday morning we finally made it to THE BEACH! Once we were there we all kind of regretted not spending the entire day there Saturday. The sun was out and we got lunch and I just layed my head back and tried to get my first glimpse of a tan, which I actually did! I have some color on my cheeks and nose now (and because we layed out all day Monday since it was 64 in Florence and we do have a roofdeck). We got paella and my friends from New York had some zeppoles – kinda like fried dough balls/donut holes (?). We stayed at the beach until we had to take our bus back to the airport at 3. Side note – the metro system in Barca was so nice and so easy! Also, this was my first RyanAir trip and I have to say it was not what I was expecting. Everyone says the flights are so scary and you think you’re gonna die the whole time but our flights were completely painless and quicker than expected! Of course I was sad to leave Spain, it was beautiful and definitely not what I was expecting – at all! I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting but it was really just amazing. If I studied abroad there I wouldn’t go to class ever, I’d just be at the beach! The nightlife is insane and I couldn’t handle it for more than a weekend but everything else is wonderful! I ❤ Espana!!

The BEACH!

The BEACH!

Barcelona bound!

I’m currently in Barcelona, Spain waiting for the rest of my friends to wake up from a midday siesta. We got here around noon after traveling on bus to Pisa then took out first RyanAir flight (surprisingly not scary at all) then another bus from the airport to the city center and from there the metro! So much transportation, but ya gotta do what you gotta do! We made it to our hostel around noon and somehow we lucked out with what I would say is the best hostel ever. It’s smackdab in the center of Barcelona, they provide a walking tour, breakfast and pub crawls all included for 13.5 euro a night…doesn’t seem real! There are six of us so we have two rooms of 3 with huge bathrooms too!

Once we were settled in we walked outside to find somewhere to eat lunch. We ended up at a cozy cafe where we got tappas, sangria and of course, churros! They gave us hot chocolate to dip the churros in too – amazing! We all sat and enjoyed each other and laughed probably the hardest I have on this trip for hours together at lunch…it was a great way to start the trip!

The wifi has been down at our apartment since Wednesday. At first it was awful not being able to communicate with the outside world but by the second day it was kind of nice to disconnect. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on my trip to Barca by the end of the weekend!

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Beyond Italy

I AM TOO EXCITED TO SLEEP!!!! I just finished planning and booking trips for the majority of the semester! I know people who study abroad in Europe tend to travel a ton on the weekends because everything is so close and cheap, and I knew I wanted to, but the past two weeks me and my friends have kept saying, “oh we’ll do it tomorrow…” and then, “let’s plan trips this weekend…” and I was nervous I was never going to leave Italy (which wouldn’t be a bad thing, don’t get me wrong).

I have been constantly changing my mind for where I want to go on spring break and me and my friend Hannah finally decided we wanted to go EAST! We booked a trip with a program (they say that’s best to do for spring break so the planning is taken care of and you can just relax) to Budapest, Krakow, Prague and Ljubljana (I can’t even pronounce the last place is that bad?). All I know is that Budapest is the “Paris of the East” and Prague is somewhere everyone says you must see. The other two look amazing and I feel like my experience is going to be so unique! Activities during the trip include going to Auschwitz, the thermal baths in Budapest, pub crawls, cave diving and apparently the exchange rate is like 0.1 to the US dollar, or something insanely cheap like that. Ok I actually just googled it and got this:

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I’m sold. IS THAT EVEN REAL? All my other friends are going island hopping in Greece to Athens, Santorini (sisterhood of the traveling pants AH!) and Corfu which all look absolutely amazing. That is where I would have gone if I didn’t go east, but I figured I’d mine as well get in as much as I can! OH and did I mention we booked our trips for 50% off because there was some valentine’s day special WOOHOO!! So it was sooo cheap! I am like giddy writing this!

Then, because we were in such a good mood after getting amazing deals and finally making decisions on spring break, we decided to find the cheapest flights anywhere in Europe for the few free weekends we have. At first we were all set to do Paris but then we realized we’d have to miss class and since we’re such good students (cough) we decided on Barcelona since the flight  is leaving on Friday (no classes!). So in two weekends from now we’ll be getting our tan on in BARCA! We all have friends that are studying abroad there too so it should be an unreal time.

Oh and did I mention I’m going to ROME this weekend?! I’ll be sure to post TONS of pictures and try to chill with the Pope before he retires.

My semester timeline of traveling:

Feb 15-17: Rome, Italy*

Feb 21-24: Interlaken, Switzerland (tentatively, but so necessary)

March 1-3: Barcelona, Spain

March 9-10: Venice, Italy*

March 16: Bologna, Italy

March 21-31: SPRING BREAK > Budapest, Krakow, Prague, Ljubljana

April 4-14: Jill & Justin are here!

April 6: Lucca, Italy*

April 13-14: Cinque Terre

April 20-21: “Under the Tuscan Sun” Trip*

April 26-28: Amalfi Coast

*= with my abroad program

Getting There

WOW! I used to think that after flying to Tallahassee alone I could do anything, but now that I’ve traveled to ITALY alone (partially) I know I can do anything.

The first of my three flights that would take me to Florence, Italy was scheduled for 5:55 pm Sunday. Of course, my parents and I got there 2 hours early to check-in and be stress-free. Well neither of those things happened. When trying to check in to my flight, we were told there were problems with my connecting flights on my way home (in MAY) and for some reason they couldn’t print a ticket. Long story short we waited at the front desk for almost 2 hours on hold with so many different people from so many different airlines to get my ticket. By 5:20 my friends had already boarded the plane and I wasn’t even through security! They finally just printed out a receipt for my final connecting flight and told me I had to get the ticket at the Barcelona airport. I said O.K, kissed mom & dad, and ran through security and to the terminal, where it was just like from any movie and the door was closing and I was the last one let on. I found my seat in the middle of 2 older men and sat down in a complete fluster, not at all ready for the long journey ahead of me. Looking back, I am kind of glad it was so rushed only because I had no time at all to be sad about leaving. Once we were headed to London I was absolutely PUMPED.

Boston > London

This flight was scheduled to be 6 hrs and 20 mins. but ended up only taking a little over 5 hours. I watched the majority of a season of 30 Rock  and woke up the man to my left a couple times from laughing out loud, mainly because Liz Lemon was wearing a Chip Clip in her hair, and I just thought it was hilarious and couldn’t get over it. I got the pasta option dinner but didn’t eat the ravioli, instead just had some salad and pocketed my carrot cake for later.

London > Barcelona

Once we got to London I was all happy because the longest flight was over with and I was with my friend Ally for the rest of the way. However, once we went through a round of security (and they didn’t stamp my passport, which I was mad about!) we realized we weren’t on the same flight. My flight was already boarding (!) and Ally’s didn’t leave for another hour and a half! We said we’d meet up in Barcelona and I sprinted down three flights of stairs onto a terminal train and then up more stairs. Once again, I made it to the gate to be the last one let on. Luckily, however, the plane was practically empty and I got a whole row to myself. As soon as we took off I put up all the arm rests and laid across the seats. A nice flight attendant brought me over a blanket and pillow and I was out for the 2 hour trip. I woke up to the pilot saying “we will be landing in 10 minutes” so I sat right up and buckled up and immediately felt a wave of nausea and a splitting headache. I had to breathe into the paper bag thats always given out and the same flight attendant sat with me and rubbed my back. EMBARRASSING! I’m supposed to be a mature twenty-something-year-old traveling the world. Oh well, it made me feel better.

Barcelona > Florence

The Barcelona airport was completely empty when I arrived. No one else was going to a connecting flight, which I didn’t know, so I followed everyone to the EXIT (I saw no signs in English, dad!) but at least got my passport stamped. Once I was outside I knew I did something wrong and went back in just wandering alone in the halls for 20 minutes scared, nervous, worried, and upset. No one was speaking English! Somehow I found some security and just went through it and on the other side was the real airport with all the normal hustle and bustle one would expect. I asked three people where the “Vueling Airlines” desk was before I found it, and once I made it there – “no hablo ingles”. Cool. I tried to just point and give her my “receipt” ticket so she could give me the real thing. She looked at it then called someone and it was a flashback to 12 hours earlier when I stood waiting on hold for so long and almost missed my flight (and that was with my parents calling the shots and in ENGLISH). I knew deep down that I was going to be stranded in Barcelona the rest of my life. Thankfully, she got off the phone after about 15 minutes, probably because she saw I was crying, and gave me a ticket and waved me along. Finally, something went my way. It was three hours until my next flight and I had to get some food & water in my system, because I was still feeling queasy and gross from that last flight. My first euros purchase was an Evian water bottle and a bag of Lays Original – how exciting! Then I waited about an hour and finally Ally met me at the gate and I was no longer alone. The flight to Florence was quick and painless and I lucked out again with an empty row. Taking off from Barcelona was so pretty and when I saw the Swiss Alps it was the first time I truly realized what “a picture doesn’t do it justice” meant. It was absolutely breath-taking and indescribable.

I was on cloud 9 when we landed in Florence, but then found out it was raining (ew) and that they lost my luggage! I really shouldn’t have been shocked after the way my trip started out. Hopefully my bag will be here by tomorrow or the next day, and I do have enough stuff to hold me until then, but not much longer so let’s keep out fingers crossed it comes soon!