Pictures from Spain!

Advertisements

I’m OBSESSED with Switzerland

There is really nothing else to say about Switzerland other than it is perfection. It was the only place I have ever been outside in the snow, totally underdressed, and in pure bliss. Everything was so beautiful and quaint, and there is nothing prettier than seeing the Swiss Alps everywhere you turn! I actually teared when I left Sunday afternoon, but I’ll get to that in a little…

Thursday night me, Bre and Hannah headed to the train station at 6:30 for our 8 hour bus ride! Surprisingly the ride didn’t feel too long, we watched a couple movies and made multiple stops for dinner/bathroom breaks. I slept a little, but by the time we were in Switzerland it was pretty hard to get any shut eye because the roads are so windy and constantly turning. We arrived at the Funny Farm hostel at 4 a.m. and had to trek up 4 flights of stairs before falling sound asleep.

We had nothing planned on Friday, so we got to sleep in and have time to relax and explore. We were starving by the time we woke up and excited to finally see Interlaken in the sunlight! Our hostel lobby was basically filled with just study abroad students and it was a great atmosphere with a pool table, fire place and bar. Everyone was talking about this Irish pub across the street so we went there for some breakfast. The place was so cute, just like what you would think of a typical pub, and packed! After a little bit of waiting, we somehow got a table that had it’s own draft lines in it! It was so cool, you had to like put in a coin and pour your own beer – we didn’t use it though because we had already gotten drinks. Me and Hannah both ordered bacon & eggs and were shocked with how much bacon they gave us! I had at least 15 pieces on my plate. That’s not normal. As I was almost done, I realized that I’d probably die if I ate all that bacon so I left a few pieces. After breakfast it was snowing pretty hard so we went back to the hotel and sat by the fire and read! We were perfect snow/lodge-bunnies. I brought a Sarah Dessen book with me that was in our Italian apartment when we moved im and I’m still reading it now its so good! At 5 we met for a private chocolate tasting! YUM. The place was about a 15 minute walk through the snow but I didn’t mind at all because it’s not like I was in Massachusetts – I was in SWITZERLAND! At the tasting we got soooo many (dare I say almost too many) samples of milk, dark and white chocolates, chocolate with nuts & liquors & mints, chocolate galore! By the end of it I didn’t even want to look at chocolate anymore (did I just say that?!) and couldn’t think about buying any. PLUS I forgot to mention everything in Switz. is like 10x the price in America. And the exchange rate is just about equal to the dollar. The smallest/cheapest piece of chocolate was around 30 francs and that was something I couldn’t afford. Luckily, I kept some samples! Hopefully they’ll last until May, but who knows. That night we ate at the hotel restaurant because the snowstorm got pretty bad!

So much chocolate!

So much chocolate!

Saturday morning was the big day! We had scheduled canyon jumping! Apparently, Interlaken and New Zealand are the only two places in the world that you can make a jump so high from an actual canyon. Pretty crazy. The jump wasn’t until 2:30, so we got up early and walked into town to explore more and find the lakes. The stores and shops were all tiny and close together and I just kept thinking about how incredible Interlaken would be at Christmastime. If only! We went into a souvenir shop (where everything was still insanely expensive) and I bought some gloves that say Switzerland on them. The old guy who owned the shop was really cute and pointed us in the direction of the lakes. We just had to follow the river for about 30-40 minutes before it opened up. The walk was very cold, but very worth it, and VERY beautiful! The water there is crystal clear and teal – like in the Caribbean. So crazy! We had a little photoshoot (of course) in front of the lakes then had to rush back to the hotel to get picked up for canyon jumping!

Beautiful!!

Beautiful!!

I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into with this jump. The guy at the hotel was telling us about how scary it is and felt bad for us so he gave us some free shots of jager to loosen the nerves. That was greatly appreciated. We got picked up by the crazy looking guy with very few teeth, a long pony tail and a hat covered in skulls. Great. The bus had other future jumpers in it and we made some friends and all talked about our nerves. It was about a 30 minute drive to the canyon and I was sweating the whole time. When we got there the guy took us up a road covered in snow that was really steep and like a 25 minute climb. Luckily I was wearing sneakers with two pairs of socks so I wasn’t too cold in the snow. I think my adrenaline also kept me warm because I didn’t feel cold the whole time. We got up to the top and I could only think “this is insane” but reminded myself it was a once in a lifetime opportunity! A few girls went before me and my friends and they were absolutely insane – jumping HEAD FIRST off the platform, like diving. Ya right was I doing THAT. But seeing people jump so quickly made me feel a little better, thinking it wouldn’t be that scary once I was face-to-face with the edge. When it was my turn I don’t even know what I was thinking, it’s all a blur. The guy hooked me up to the cord, and I just remember doing the sign of the cross and jumping. Then I was free falling for a LOT longer than I thought I was going to, before swinging to safety at the bottom. The jump was over 300 ft and the guy told us we were falling over 70 mph. OMG. I wish I could post the video on here, but I don’t think I can. If you want to see it email me! Or I’m sure I’ll show everyone when I’m home! It was truly the funnest, most insane & crazy thing I’ve ever done! Something that I will never forget.

Scared before the jump

Scared before the jump

After the jump we got free beers and warmed up in a cute little cabin. When we got home we were starving and went back to the pub for dinner. I got the greatest club sandwich ever, it had grilled chicken, tomato, lettuce, bacon and eggs! And the french fries were just as amazing. I ate my whole plate in under 5 minutes. When we went out that night we met these really cool girls who are studying abroad in Prague. They were so nice and it was great to make new friends!

Unfortunately we had to leave early Sunday afternoon. We woke up that morning and went ice skating! I was so bad, I don’t even remember the last time I skated, and had to use a kiddy bar to push around in front of me haha. After a couple of minutes I could stand up on my own – barely. After that we went to a bagel shop that a woman from NYC owned. The bagels were delicious and I got this cinnamon raison cream cheese that was delish. We left Switzerland around 3 and got home just before midnight! The bus ride back was definitely long, and I actually cried watching the alps fade away.

This weekend was absolutely hands down the best weekend of my life (maybe after Countryfest last summer) and I continue to feel so lucky that I am here in Europe. I also was annoyed when people (my sister) talk all about how Europe is so amazing blah blah blah but It REALLY IS. Life is so simple and easy here & right now I can’t imagine ever leaving!

Central Market

This morning I had an early class and then decided to check out the Central Market for the first time! It is ridiculous that I haven’t gone yet considering it is about 10 feet from my apartment (I really have a great location!) and is probably closer than the grocery store I’ve been going to. The first couple weeks I didn’t go because I couldn’t find it. Whoops! I don’t know if it’s just me or the fact that I’m American, but when I think of a “market” I think it’s outside. I knew it was close to where I live and would try to search for it but the only vendors that are outside are all selling clothing and fake Hermes bags. Then once I had my Food & Wine pairing class our teacher took us on the tour and showed us the building the Central Market was in. And it is a huge building in fact, right in the center of the clothes markets I walk through every day on my way to class. I wonder if I ever would have found it if it wasn’t for her? I’d like to think so but I’m not sure.

So today I finally found the time to go. I only had 4 euros on me and was just in the search for eggs (le uova). When I went inside the market for the first time I was completely shocked. Nothing in Italy seems to not shock me though, now that I think of it. It’s basically like a shopping mall, but with food. There are just a million different booths set up all around and little cafes with bars selling sandwiches or pizzas or whatever. Fruits, vegetables, homemade pastas, meat, FRESH meat like with the rooster’s head and gobbler still on it, nuts, oils, chocolates, pastries, everything! It was magical. I spotted the nuts and remembered I’d been craving almonds so I bought 100 for 0.50 euros. I thought that was a deal! I kept walking around until I found the eggs with a sign for 1.50 for a pack of 6. I’m not sure if that’s a good price or not because I forget what I bought them at the grocery store for, but I figured I’d take a shot at bargaining. I never know if people understand English or not so I just held the eggs in my hand and held out 1 euro and just kind of shrugged, trying to say, “This is all I have but I desperately need eggs” and he took it! Such a good feeling! If I had more money on me I would have gone crazy trying to get away with as many deals as I could. It’s like going into the supermarket and paying whatever you want for everything. As I was walking out I saw some packaged, real-life, OREOS! They were only 0.50 euros but I figured I’d keep the 2.50 I had left in case I needed something desperately until Thursday, when I leave for Switzerland!

My travel writing class is seeming to progressively get more interesting and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I was going to two weeks ago. Today we basically just went over the reading (which was surprisingly enjoyable) and then got to leave for 45 minutes and write about observing a person/people. I went to a cafe/bar (they’re called the same thing here) and wrote about a woman who met a man there and I’m pretty sure they were having an affair. Then we all read our little essays to the class and I wasn’t even nervous to share my writing, which is usually not the case! So far it’s been a good day 🙂

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!

1 Week Away!

I will be leaving for Florence, Italy in a week! I take off Sunday night from Logan Airport in Boston, MA, make a couple quick stops in London and Barcelona, and then will finally be under the Tuscan sun. Speaking of which, I watched that movie for the first time last night – so inspiring!

This week I’ll be preparing to leave by packing, practicing Italian on my iPhone app, and searching the web to keep up to speed with the latest European fashions. I’m not particularly trendy here in the U.S., but I’m only abroad for 4 months so why not look cute?!

I’ve never been to Europe before so it is going to be a completely new and surprisingly experience for me. The past few weeks leading up to it I’ve been nervous, excited, scared, anxious, thrilled and everywhere inbetween. I think all of this uncertainty is coming from the fact that I have absolutely no idea what to expect, but that’s also making it so much more exciting! Most of my friends are studying abroad this semester have already left and I have been so jealous following their lives through facebook, so I really just need to leave now!

If you’ve read any of my blogs before you might know I love baking! I’m not sure how much baking there is in Italy, but I do know one thing – gelato! However, when it comes to real food (as in not sweets) I’m probably the pickiest 20-year-old eater on the planet, but will obviously have to keep an open mind while away.

My plan is to update this blog at least once a week with exciting food and adventures, but am not sure of the Internet connection I’ll have. Hopefully I’ll get free wifi in my apartment but I can’t be certain until I show up! There are definitely Internet cafes, so that could be where I end up doing all my blogging.

I’m looking forward to my adventure abroad!