Please check back soon to read the blogs of our Fall 2014 Italy Study Abroad student, Toni!
My last week in Rome for the semester was filled with a beach day in Ostia and lots and lots of studying and packing. My last Friday was beautiful and 70 degrees, so a few of us took advantage of this weather and headed to the beach. The rest of the week was a blur between papers, studying, finals, packing, and my friend coming to visit for the last few days. Saturday and Sunday I spent at Friends café and at the Tiber campus preparing for my finals. Sunday was one of the busiest days in Rome with two past popes becoming Saints with two living popes present at the canonization. Vatican city was so busy and I stayed away from it all, as cool as it would have been to be there the commotion I went to East Mass the week before and that was perfect enough for me. Monday I had two finals, then one Tuesday and my last one on Friday. When I wasn’t studying or organizing all my things I was out in Rome.
My friend arrived in Rome Wed and I had till Friday evening to show her around. So nice to see her again, but definitely got me anxious to go home… Last week we tried new restaurants like Alfredo’s, which is where the original fettuccini Alfredo was created. The original is just butter and Parmesan cheese. When they bring it out to you the cheese is on top and they mix it all up in front of you, a little lighter then our version but still extremely delicious. As the week went on people started to leave and it began to hit us that our Roman vacation is over. Even though I will be back here in August it wont be the same. And the fact that it wont be the same hit me really hard when we were out for our last night with all our friends. We stayed out with everyone till closing and said our sad goodbyes, and see you laters. Saturday morning my roommates were getting ready to head to the airport and I headed to my friends to spend what I thought was my last night in Rome.
We spent our last true day in the eternal city in Villa Borghese on bikes and walking around the city for hours, taking everything in that we could. For dinner we tried to go to a few of our favorite restaurants around Trastevere but everything was booked, and then we stumbled upon this pizzeria that was hidden from the tourists and college students. The pizza was so thin and they made everything out in the open so you could watch. After that we headed for one drink and then back to bed before waking up for our long long long journey home. Rome just didn’t want Jessie and I to leave Sunday, so after a few plane delays and a cancellation we officially missed our connecting flight to Boston and were brought to a hotel. My luggage really didn’t want to leave and got to spend two extra nights in Rome.
But finally 40-hours later I flew over the coast of Maine, and landed in Boston where my parents were anxiously waiting for me. We cleared customs in Dublin and I didn’t have any luggage so I just walked off the plane to find my parents, grabbed a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, and a Poland Springs water (water never tasted so good) and headed to the car. Tuesday morning when I woke up in my bed I literally thought that I had woken up from a dream. I cannot thank my family for the support and opportunity enough to let me have the most amazing experiences as well as push me to go back and accomplish even more. These past four months were by the far the best, I met so many people with different outlooks on life, I lived and will continue to live in a different culture that is so diverse, I was reunited with my family in my favorite city, and I got to see and do things I could and have only dreamed of. The next years will be different, and I have no idea what to expect, all I know is that I’m absolutely petrified in the most exciting, nerve racking way, and I can not wait to see what happened. I can honestly say that my decision to study abroad for four months was the best decision I have every made, and has changed my life and how I look at people and the world. Thank you for reading and following my four-month journey through Europe, and hopefully you can follow my next two years too! And Rome ill see you soon!
Thank you for reading, ciao!
My lease is signed and security deposit is paid its official, ill be moving back to Rome at the end of August and into my first big girl apartment! I could not be more nervous, scared, and excited! It’s the best feeling in the entire world, and ill never be able to thank my family enough. I am a total believer in signs showing up in your life to deliver a message or validate your choices. And it wasn’t that I was doubting my decision, but I was starting to get a little nervous, and then when I went to sign my papers there were three signs that made me realize this was the best decision and to go for it. The first sign was that my landlords name is Dante, the second was my address is Via Giacomo Venezian, and the third was that the person who helped us with the apartments uncle was the manager of the Bubble Room in Captiva. Some of you reading this may not understand why all those connections are important to me. So to start: Dante is also my BABY brother’s name. Second Giacomo was my grandfather’s name, and third the Bubble Room is a restaurant with the best cake, which is in Captiva (my favorite place to go with my family). So having those signs was definitely a comfort.
This past Friday Katharine and I decided to get out of town considering tourist season has sprung and it was Easter weekend. We hopped on the 10:30 am train to Orvieto, to spend the day in a small town about 1-hr and 45-min outside of Rome. On the train we met a girl studying abroad in Rome through another program; she was traveling alone for the day so we invited her to join us. Once we got off the train we found this other train/ bus that went up to the top where the town of Orvieto is. We spent the day roaming around the little medieval town. The town was full of little streets, with shops, and restaurants. The church also has a famous church called the Duomo. We followed the signs and when we got to the Duomo we found a nice little surprise…a chocolate show! It was a line of tent after tent full of different chocolate, and other Easter treats. They had everything from chocolate tools, cameras, shoes, animals, cannolis…etc. After we indulged in our chocolate we walked inside the church, and then went to find lunch. We found a little restaurant and got pizza and white wine (white wine is what Orvieto is known for). After that we strolled the streets, went shopping, and I grabbed some fresh tortellini’s to bring back for dinner.
Saturday was a nice lazy rainy day in Rome; we woke up and went to pick up our Easter tickets at the Vatican, and went to the market and bakery to grab some treats for brunch. Sunday we were up and out of our room by 6:00 am to head to the Vatican, we waited in line for almost 2-hrs before we were allowed in. Waiting in line for Easter mass at the Vatican was just as crazy as waiting for the Beyoncé concert this past winter…Crazy. We were there nice and early and were able to have seats. Being at the Vatican with the Pope and the million of others was absolutely amazing. Just looking back and seeing the streets filled with people was incredible, definitely an experience. One thing I have noticed being in Europe is that back home we make a bigger deal with our holidays. After mass we came back to our room and Deirdre whipped up some French toast and we enjoyed a nice little brunch with her mom and sister. After brunch we cleaned up and took a little nap before walked around and it was time for dinner. It was so nice to spend the day with Deirdre and her family, it made it seem more like a holiday then I thought it would. Three days of classes, one presentation, four finals, a lot of food and wine to indulge in before its time to come home.
Ciao, thanks for reading,
I enjoyed a wonderful relaxing, lazy weekend in Rome after my weekend in Munich. My roommates went to go explore the Amalfi Coast, and I caught up on sleep, homework, and friends that I haven’t seen with all the go go go travel we have all been doing. I love traveling but having my own quiet weekend here in this city was exactly what I needed. We are almost at the end and the term papers, and presentations are all around the corner (tomorrow, next week). When I took a breather last week from writing papers, going to class, and group projects, I went wandering around the city with some friends to check a few things off the list.
Tuesday Jessie, Brogan and I wandered off to find this garden on top if Gianicolo Hill. The weather here has been beautiful, so we are trying to take advantage of it. That night we met up again but with a bigger group and tried a new restaurant around the corner. It’s hitting us all that our Roman holidays are soon to be over, and we have so little time so much to eat! Going out to dinner here is so relaxed, you can sit at the table as long as you want, and they don’t really rush you here.
Wednesday Carly and I finally found our home away from home for next year! The fresh food market will be outside my door every day, and I’m only a 7-min walk max, from both campuses. I can relax a little now that I am done apartment searching and can enjoy my last few weeks.
Brogan, and Jessie have been going on and on about this meat and cheese store that make paninos. For any guy that says all women are good for are making sandwiches are wrong, because I had the best sandwich and it was made by a man. When we first walked in you could just smell everything from the meats, cheeses, pizzas, and breads; as soon as they saw us we were offered to try the traditionally roman salami. Immediately sold I told Brogan I’d split anything she wanted; this is the typical Italian establishment where you tell them to make you what ever they want, and its usually the best thing you have ever had. We all got something different but equally as delicious. Our sandwich consisted on the pizza bread, salami, pistachio cheese, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes. The do everything my weight here, so they cut all the salami, and laid it out, then the cheese…etc. Our mouths were watering but we waited (well most of us) until we got to a park where to sit down. After our little picnic we headed to the keyhole where you can see Saint Peters Basilica, and then to the orange grove to hangout and enjoy a beautiful view of the city.
Friday was the start of our last weekend trip of the semester. We caught our 7:57 am train to La Spezia Central. After this 4-hour train ride we hopped onto a local rail for a quick 8-min ride to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre. Katharine, Georgia, Kendra, and immediately fell in love when we got off the train and right there was the ocean. We took the scenic rout to our hostel, just to find out we should of gone left and not right off the train, oh well its not like we had a bad view on our way to find the main street. After checking in we put on our bathing suits grabbed some lunch and headed to the beach. The beaches here are much different, lots of rocks, but still breath taking. We only could handle laying out for about 2-hours, and we all managed to get some color, some of us more evenly then others… The town is mostly all on this one main street, with take away and a few restaurants to choose from. After dinner we went to a bar and split a “big” mojito, it was a mojito in a bucket and 5 euro a person, and the make it based on how many people. After sitting there and soaking up the wifi we headed to the room and enjoyed some wine and cookies before calling it a night.
Saturday we hiked through the open trails of Cinque Terre that consisted of the towns of Corniglia, Veranzza, and ending in Monterosso. About 8 miles later, we landed at our beach town destination, where we grabbed some lunch and a beer before hitting the beach. By then in was almost 4:00pm and getting chilly so we weren’t beach bums for long before heading back to Riomaggiore. On the train we met a few student from Vienna, and thank god we did because the informed us of the train strike that was happening the following day, when we all had to travel. Luckily our train to Rome was still on, we just couldn’t use any of the regional trains connecting the 5 towns to La Spezia, and it was an easy fix with a cab. Sunday was the day we dedicated to the beach, but it was rainy and chilly, so instead we restaurant hopped until it was time to head home.
Cinque Terre was everything I imagined it to be an look forward to going back! It was nice and relaxing to me in a little town by the water with out any hustle and bustle at all times. Its hard to believe my Roman holiday as a study abroad student is over, and even crazier that I have signed a lease to come back in three months. Time to buckle down and get this work down and enjoy the eternal city with the friends I have here now.
Thanks for reading, ciao!
A weekend full of Bavarian culture is what we experienced at the Starkbeirfest in Munich this weekend. A quick 4-day week in Rome before we headed to the airport for a short flight to Germany. When we landed a friend from home was waiting to join us for the weekend, and let me tell you it was so nice to be with a familiar face. It’s not that I’m homesick or anything at all, it is just comforting. Our hostel was at a prime location just a street away from the train that dropped us off from the airport, and about a 5-min walk to Marienplatz (the central square). By the time we had finished taking planes, trains and automobiles we didn’t get checked into our rooms untill 11:00pm, so we hung out down stairs at the bar in our hostel for about an hour until we went upstairs to crash.
Friday morning we were up and out by 9:15am to catch the train to Dachau. Dachau was one of the first concentration camps during WWII that is located just north of Munich. Although there were people killed there during the Nazi rein it was considered a working camp rather than a death camp. We were lucky and had absolutely beautiful weather all weekend, which was so nice especially to visit a place like Dachau. At first it didn’t hit me that I was standing in what was once a concentration camp 70 years ago, but then it hit me all at once and I was very overwhelmed when I was standing in the prisoners cells building and when I walked through the gas chamber and then past the crematorium. But to visit a place that we have been hearing about and learning about since middle school was unbelievable. After the 2.5-hour tour we headed back to Munich to find some food and get ready to head to the Paulaner beer hall to see what a German beer festival is all about. The beer halls/gardens close around 10:30-11:00pm and we got there around 7pm, some would say we were late. The Bavarians usually start around 2pm…When we got their we grabbed a drink and a large pretzel and sat outside. At first we were kind of disappointed, it wasn’t what we were expecting, and that is because the live band and dancing was inside. As soon as we stepped inside we were in a sea of lederhosen and dirndl dresses. After a fun night of dancing and socializing with the Germans we decided that the next day we had to get ourselves some dirndl dresses so we could fit in.
Saturday we had a 4-hour bike tour to see the city. 4-hours seems like a lot but it flew by and was a great way to see and learn about Munich and some German history. Halfway through the tour we ended up at Chinesischer Tum Englischer Garten, which is an outside beer garden, like all the rest you grab a drink and some traditional food and sit wherever you can find a seat. We biked through a park, past the river where people and surfing. Yes, I said surfing. After the tour we headed to find out traditional outfits and head out for our last night.
Sunday we woke up and grabbed some breakfast at a café we found that served eggs, and bagels and bacon. Then we walked around until it was time to head back to Rome. This was one of my favorite trips, and I think its because I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the city as much as I did. It is the only other place we have visited that I could see myself living in besides Rome. I think Germany never crossed my mind to study in because the Language intimidates me…a lot. Only 4-weeks left of my semester abroad before heading home for a break, and until I’m half-way done college…
Thanks for reading, ciao!
Watch out Italy, they are here!
Boats, cars, trains, and buses is what my life has consisted of for the past 2 weeks, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Two weeks ago it all started when my 5’10” 12 year old brother tackled me at the train station; they were finally here! After he grabbed my bags I turned around to see my family holding signs with my name on it. I don’t know if they were more excited to see me, or the fact I had pizza in my hand for them. Needless to say it was so nice to be embraced by family.
The train ride to Naples was a quick one and a man named Sal was waiting for us at the end of the track to bring us to our beautiful hotel in Sorrento, Italy. Sal quickly became Uncle Sal and was our go to man, he knew everyone; whether it was his ex wife, brother, cousin, cousins cousins husband, didn’t matter he knew them. Throughout the weekend he drove us around set up reservations, and pretty much anything else we wanted to do on the Amalfi Coast. For dinner we went to Sal’s neighbors restaurant Inn Bufalito, which became our favorite restaurant and we may have eaten 3 times out of the five days we spent there… Anyways after a few glasses of wine and delicious food we went back to the hotel.
Friday morning we were up and out headed to the Isle of Capri. Incase you haven’t notice the way our traveling works is purely around food. As soon as we got off the ferry on Capri we ate a “snack” before getting on a bus that would drive us to the top. We wandered around Capri trying to find the Blue Grotto, which we saw from a distance high above. Then of course we realized we didn’t want to miss a meal and should eat before siesta. That night we got ready for dinner and were on our way to try something new but somehow we found ourselves back at Inn Bufalito for another amazing meal. That night the boys and I went to explore what the nightlife of Sorrento was all about.
Saturday Uncle Sal came bright and early at 9 am to drive us around the Amalfi Coast. But first he set up an olive oil tasting where they gave us a tour. After stuffing our faces with bread and oil we hopped back in the van. The drive was absolutely beautiful along the cliffs. We stopped to take pictures, and at a ceramics factory store. For lunch Uncle Sal set us up at a restaurant with the best pizza I have ever had. The owner kept bringing us out course after course; we started with cheeses, then pizza, pasta, dessert, and finally limoncello.
Sunday we were up and ready to climb Mt. Vesuvius and explore Pompeii. Mt. Vesuvius was really cool, and extremely windy hiking to the top. It was surreal standing on top of one of the most famous volcanoes to ever exist. At the top we grabbed a few snacks, coffee, and of course some Mt. Vesuvius wine. Once we finally made it back to the van from the windy trek down we went to explore Pompeii.
Monday we took the day to just roam around and shop around Sorrento. We spent our last night at the English bar downtown, where the owner actually had me bartending for my family. And once the clock struck midnight we all celebrated Nicco’s 18th birthday and then headed back to the hotel. Tuesday we left the beautiful lemon city of Sorrento and headed to Naples to catch our 11:00am train to Rome.
At the train station in Rome my family went to their hotel and I headed back to my apartment. Tuesday night I met them at Campo de Fiori for a walking tour around the city, and grabbed a quick dinner before we separated for the night. This part of their trip was a little bit of a blur, I had class, and had to get ready for spring break. Wednesday I was walking home from class at the Colosseum when I found them roaming around on segways, after that I didn’t see them till dinner. Thursday was our last day together. Communication here is a little difficult but I took a shot at trying to find them at the Vatican, just when I gave up and started walking back I passed them on the street, which was a nice surprise and I got to spend our last day at the Vatican and then lunch in Trestevere. Later that evening we met at their hotel and then went to dinner at Hostaria de Romana, (my grandparents favorite restaurant in Rome). We enjoyed our last meal together before we said goodbye. They explored Rome without me Friday on their last day as I headed to Greece for spring break. I was a little more upset about them leaving then I was expecting, but having spring break right after helped a lot. I think it was because this has been a dream trip for all of us, and was by far the best trip we have ever had. We had a lot of laughs, and amazing memories, I cannot wait for them to come back so we can explore even more together.
Time for the spring break of my life!
Seven ferry rides and numerous bus rides later we accomplished an amazing 10-day Grecian vacation. Plate smashing, donkey riding, booze cruise, atving through Corfu and Santorini, roaming around Athens and indulging in delicious Greek food can all be checked off my bucket list. It took us 2 bus rides and 2 boat rides but Saturday morning we finally arrived at the Pink Palace in Corfu, Greece. After check in it was time to start our spring break adventures; first up ATVing throughout Corfu. I know dad your probably having flashbacks with the dirt bike incident and snowmobile but you’ll be happy to know that I now think the boys should get four-wheelers! (Your welcome boys) Anyways we spent the next three days enjoying Corfu from a boat, and the beach. Sunday night was the Pink Toga party after dinner. This is where we got to experience the traditional Greek dances/music’s, plate smashing, and of course Ouzo.
Monday night we were on an overnight bus/ferries to make our way to the amazing city of Athens. We checked right into the hostel and then it was off on a walking tour to see the Temple of Zeus, Olympic Stadium and the Acropolis. After the walking tour we were on a hunt for Gyros, fish pedicures, and shopping. The fish pedicure was the weirdest, craziest, feeling ever and I cried and laughed that whole time. When your dangling your feet above the water they just come to the surface and stare at your feet with lust…it’s a little overwhelming and freaky. But I’m not going to lie my feet felt fresh and relieved when I was done. After the fish indulged on our dead skin we shopped our way back to the hostel. We had a group dinner right next to where we were staying. I cant even begin to talk about the Greek food we consumed this trip, I want to cry I miss it so much, the feta, chicken, moussaka, baklava, tztaziki…etc. After dinner we joined some of the others on our trip to a bar called 360, which was recommended by a local. By far the most amazing bar I have ever been too. It is an open rooftop where you can see the Acropolis all lit up at night. Unfortunately we had to be on the bus by 5:30 am so we didn’t get to stay much longer.
5:30 cam quick and before you knew it, it was time to board the ferry for Santorini. 7 hours later we arrived and checked into our hostel. We watched the sunset and grabbed some dinner before heading to the Highlander (a Scottish bar). Wednesday we explored the red sand beach, black sand beach, and did a wine tasting during the day. That evening we got all dolled up and headed to Oia, the picturesque village with the white houses and blue tops, this is where they filmed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Here we took some pictures and enjoyed the scenery. When we got back to Fira we were exhausted, so we ate dinner at Mama’s which was of course delicious and headed back to the hostel. Friday we had until 5:30 to explore some more of Santorini. The best and easiest way to get around is via ATV. We were up and out early on the hunt for some ATVs and Donkeys. We successful managed to do both and we still made it to the beach. What more could a girl want then a glass of sangria, baked feta and the Mediterranean rays… Unfortunately 5:30 came to quick and it was time to start the two day journey home to Rome. That night we took the 7 hour ferry back to Athens and had the morning to explore the city one last time before driving 3 hour to catch the 24 hr. long ferry. We finally arrived in Rome around mid-night.
The past few weeks have seemed like a blur, I got to have adventures in new places. Two of the most memorable trips I have ever had with some pretty amazing people. Some of the traveling was long and exhausting but that’s why wine, and cards were invented. And to be honest my favorite part about traveling is the anticipation of what is going to happen, what its going to be like, so being on a boat for 24 hours didn’t really bother me. After spring break my new happy place in lying on a beach in Greece with stray dogs around me eating baked feta…
Thanks for reading, ciao!
This past week we accomplished a lot, we had mid-term exams and still managed to go on some pretty cool adventures. Wednesday morning we were up and out of our room as usual, but this time we didn’t have class, instead we went to see the Pope. Every Wednesday morning the Pope comes out and does a few readings, we normally can’t make it, so it was nice to not have class and go to the Vatican early Wednesday morning.
Friday we had a field trip to Pompeii for our art history class; I am convinced that there is a permanent rain cloud over this country…it rained for all but probably 15-min over the ruins for the 5-hours we were there. Despite the rain the Pompeii ruins were so amazing. I remember learning in 6th grade about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, but to actually be there was pretty incredible.
Saturday we had to be at termini by 6:40 am to head with Bus2Alps to Venice for Carnival. The 7.5-hour bus ride got us there around 2:30pm and we had all day until 10pm. The nightlife in Venice shuts down around then too so it was perfect timing especially because it poured all day and we were exhausted. The carnival festivities were not in full swing because of the rain, but we still bought our masks when we got to Saint Marcos Square. We hopped from shop to shop and then found ourselves at Rosso Pomodoro, which is where we ate lunch/dinner and hid from the rain. Venice itself is beautiful and I will definitely be making my way back on a nice sunshiny day to enjoy a gondola ride.
This weeks starts the craziness… Thursday my family of seven (well +3) arrive and we are headed to Sorrento for the weekend, before they explore Rome. Then next Friday I leave for spring break in Greece! And on top of all of that I am in the middle of apartment hunting here too…oh yeah I have decided to transfer to JCU and live in Rome for my last two years of college! This may be my last post for a while, but don’t worry the next one will be full of stories and adventures!!!
Thanks for reading, ciao!
Thursday night Katharine and I headed out on a 12-hour bus ride to Vienna, Austria with Bus2Alps. After we arrived in The City of Dreams we were off on a walking town with the group. Vienna itself is beautiful, very clean, and spacious. It is known for its music and delicious chocolate cake. The tour took us by the Palace, Church, and famous opera house. For lunch we went to one of the oldest restaurants in Vienna. It is 600 years old and lit by candles. We indulged our self in the Austrian culture and ate Wiener schnitzel and drank some Austrian beer. After lunch we made our way to find some of the chocolate cake. It is pretty much a chocolate torte with apricot jam and chocolate ganache frosting.
Then we hopped on the subway to the Schnapps museum. Our half of the group arrived a little late and missed the tour but they still let us try as many schnapps as we wanted and were extremely friendly. The Schnapps museum/factory is family run. We bought a few souvenirs and then hopped back on the subway to go to the hostel and get ready for the night. The subway system in Vienna was extremely easy to use and very clean.
We got all dolled up and met with everyone down stairs to head to the Sound of Vienna Concert. The concert was mainly music but some parts had opera signers and dancers as well. It was very entertaining and fun to experience such a big part of the culture. After the concert we were exhausted and headed back to the hostel, after grabbing a bratwurst from a street cart of course. The street carts in Austria are so different from what we are used to in the US, they are actually very good, and clean.
Saturday morning we got up and walked around Vienna before leaving for Salzburg. Salzburg means salt castle and was a 3-hour bus ride from Vienna. We explored a little before getting ready to go to the Augustiner Beer Hall, which is a huge beer hall where the monks brew the beer. Here all you do is grab a mug run it out of the fountain of water, pay and then they fill up your mug. You sit pretty much wherever you there is a seat and then go to the hall that has different “shops” of Austrian food. You can also bring your own food to eat here as well.
After dinner at the Augustiner we headed out to experience the nightlife of Salzburg, which is a very calm and relaxed bar seen. Salzburg was beautiful a little city surrounded by the Alps. The next morning we were up early and headed out on the Sound of Music tour. The bus picked us up from the hostel and brought us around Salzburg and told us all about the Vonn Trapp Family; the real family and Hollywood version. We drove to where they filmed the scenes behind the house near the lake, the actual house used in the movie, where the gazebo is, and out to a little town where the church is that they used during the wedding scene. It was a great way to see Salzburg and immerse ourselves into the world of the Sound of Music. We stopped at the church for a while and got to try Austria’s other famous desert…apple strudel.
When we got back to the hostel we grabbed out bags and headed to the bus for the 12-hour ride home. The trip was mixed from student studying in Rome and Florence. We dropped the Florence students off around 9pm and we didn’t walk into our apartment until 2 am. The trip itself was so fun, we accomplished so much but at the same time it was relaxing.
This morning was absolutely beautiful not a cloud in the sky and mid 60’s; a nice change from all this rain. I took advantage of the warmth and sat out on the terrace of school all day attempting to do some work… 2 more mid terms left then my family is here and then off to Greece for spring break!!
Thanks for reading, ciao!
Who needs a boy on Valentines Day when you can spend the weekend with some of your best friends in Paris? Friday morning we were up and at the airport before 5am to catch out 7:10 flight to Paris. The flight was only about 2 hours. Once we figured out the bus and metro system to get to our hostel we left our bags and were off to the Louvre to see Mona Lisa. It was cold and windy but luckily the line moved fast. The inside of the Louvre was amazing itself. We were on a hunt to find Mona and take our selfies with her… The Museum was also having a Lady Gaga exhibit, which was interesting; nothing to special it was just a picture of her projected onto a screen. Also people in Paris really love Lady Gaga and the men on the streets trying to sell you souvenirs call you Lady Gaga.
When we were leaving the Louvre we saw people carrying a lot of red balloons to the main entrance; we were determined to get a balloon so we followed them. It turned out to be an event celebrating the launch for a website called Wiki Love. This was the most Valentines festive part of our day; they passed out postcards where you wrote something down and then stuck it to the balloon and at 2:14 everyone let go of the balloons. There was also a band there playing and people dancing, it was one of the highlights of my trip. After that ended we were on the hunt for Chipotle. Luckily it was just a metro stop away. As much as I love indulging in the foods of different cultures, it was nice to have a taste of home.
We then headed back to the hostel and got situated into out room and got ready for the night. It was still really early to be heading out but we headed to the Eiffel tower to meet one of Shannon’s friends who lives right outside of Paris. The Eiffel tower is one of the most beautiful things when it is all light up. And every night on the hour it has a light show. Friday night we wondered around Paris. We made it to the lock bridge where we took pictures and danced to the band that was playing.
Saturday we were up and out early to sightsee. We saw the Sacred Heart Church, Moulin Rouge, Notre Dame. After Notre Dame we grab lunch at a café close by, and then headed to a place to grab some éclairs that we ate on the lock bridge. Of course when we went back to the lock bridge Katharine, Deirdre, Shannon and I bought a lock and signed it locked it to the bridge and through the keys in the river. After the Lock Bridge we headed out to find Laduree the famous macaroon place seen in Gossip Girl. Then the rain started and we headed back to the hostel to get ready for dinner.
For dinner we headed over to the Eiffel Tower where we had a nice sit down dinner, and then headed over to see the light show. In Paris the Metros close around 2am, so by the time we saw the light show it was already 1:00 and we headed back to the hostel. Sunday was out last day in Paris and we headed out to Versailles to explore the gardens, palace, and where Marie Antoinette lived. The day started off smoothly but we managed to get lost. Luckily it was a nice day and we weren’t wandering around in the rain. We could not find where Marie Antoinette lived for the life of us and were about to give up; I went into a building to ask if we could buy tickets for the shuttle to get us back to the entrance. And guess what building it was? Yup, Marie Anoinett’s...we did a quick walk through and then headed back to the train station. When we were back in Paris we headed back over to the Eiffel Tower to take a few pictures and then grab some lunch/dinner. The French onion soup there was wicked good. Then we headed out to Champs de Elysee to do a little window-shopping, and find some crepes. We were all absoulutely exhausted after that and had an early flight the next morning, so we headed back to pack up and get some rest.
3:30 am came way to quickly. Our flight was at 7:15 and we had to catch the 4:33 bus to Orly Airport. The reception guy at the hostel told us to catch the 144 bus (which was wrong) and when we saw the right bus arrive we all ran across the plaza to the bus, which luckily waited for us. To make things more interesting we also had to run and catch our flight because we grabbed Starbucks, thinking the security in Paris would be like the security in Italy which you basically just walk through… Some how some way we all made the flight and were back in Italy at 9:00am.
This week is a busy and quick one. Midterms start and Thursday Afternoon Katharine and I are off to Austria for the weekend! Also the two-week countdown of my family’s arrival starts!
Thanks for reading, ciao!
I don’t even know how to start to describe this past weekend. Thinking back now I can’t actually even believe that I skied, paraglided, and went sledding under the moon in the Swiss Alps. Thursday we had to be at Termini train station in Rome at 7:40 to get on the bus at 8pm for an 11-hour ride… But somehow Katharine and I got the best seats where we had lots of room to get comfy. And honestly the bus ride wasn’t even that bad, they played movies, and it was an over night so we managed to get some sleep. It was right before 7am when we arrived in Interlaken, also known as the adventure capitol of the world. After laying down in our room for 45 min it was time to start what turned out to be one of the best weekends of my life.
Shannon and I headed to Outdoor Interlaken where we got suited up to hit the slopes. When we were waiting for the bus it started to rain which meant that it was snowing in the mountains, so I skied the Swiss Alps in the snow with my tongue hanging out of my mouth trying to catch snowflakes! It took a little over and hour to reach the top of the mountain; we took a bus, and two trains to reach the winter-wonderland top. Everything was white, and made it hard to differentiate the turns, and bumps of the trails. Shan and I would ski about five feet and just stop take pictures and smile; we never imagined we would be so lucky and fortunate to experience anything like this. Also their trail colors are different then ours. Theirs goes: blue, red, black and ours go: green circle, blue square, and black diamond. In total we only did 3 total runs, but the runs here aren’t like the runs at Shawnee Peak, they take about anywhere from 30min to 1 hour. On second run after we experienced the red trails… we found one that took you down around the mountain surrounded by trees; needless to say it was our favorite run. When we got to the end of that run we took the train to the top, where we got lunch in a large teepee. Right before our last run we were looking at the board and a light was blinking…it was the avalanche warning light…luckily we didn’t get to experience an avalanche.
After skiing we were absolutely exhausted, and took a quick nap back at the room before heading out for the night. We started at an Irish pub where we grabbed some dinner before heading to Metro, which was the bar underneath one of the hostels. The second day we woke up early and got ready to go paragliding. It was an amazing way to see Interlaken, and not scary at all. I can’t even describe the experience, but if you ever have the chance, TAKE IT. The only scary part was standing waiting to take off because it was so easy to slip. Taking off wasn’t even that bad other then the fact you had to run down a mountain with some guy attached to you. The flight was about 15 min but it went by so quickly. After that we headed to grab some lunch and walk around the adorable quaint town full of chocolate.
Saturday night we went night sledding, otherwise known as real life Mario Kart. We drove half way up a mountain, and then got on a gondola…that was pretty scary. But the actually sledding part was amazing, the guides said that it could take us anywhere from 45min-3 hour. We rode the old school sleds down the mountain with nothing but the light from the moon, and stars. It was absolutely breath taking, and at the top of the trail it looked like we were looking down on Who-Ville from the Grinch’s cave. After sledding we headed to a restaurant on the mountain for a traditional Swiss meal: salad, cheese fondue, and veal and potatoes.
Sunday morning we got up and went for a walk to find the lake. It was one of the most breath taking views I have ever seen. The water is the color of blue Gatorade and reflects of the mountains. After our photo shoot by the water, we walked back towards the center of town and went shopping for chocolate before it was time to grab some snacks and wait for the bus.
This weekend was amazing. I’m absolutely having the time of my life and I can never thank my family enough for giving me this opportunity to travel the world and experience life like this. I’m not even close to being homesick, but I wish my family and friends could be here to do all these adventures with me.
Thanks for reading, ciao!