So a lot has happened over the course of these past three weeks, and I'm really excited to tell you all about it on here! I'm first going to start with my Barcelona, Spain! I absolutely loved Barcelona, and if I could go back, I totally would. It was an awesome weekend, and one that I will never forget. I went with my suitemate, Lauren, my best friend, Stef, and then her other friends from AUR, making up a group of nine people in total. We got there on Friday, and after dropping our stuff off at the place we were staying at, we went to downtown Barcelona, walking aimlessly for hours. One of the highlights of Friday night was seeing the huge market they have there. There were a bunch of different stands with all various types of fresh fruits, nuts, chocolates, fishes, etc. The atmosphere was amazing! The group and I also came across a Starbucks, and I have never been more excited to see it in my life, which is sad, but I really missed my iced coffees. So, I made sure we stopped there and I was reunited with my iced coffee that I love so much from back home. We then went out to dinner that night at a restaurant that had amazing food, but unfortunately I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to due to me not feeling well mid-dinner. I ordered paella and I sadly only took five bites because I suddenly felt awful, and I'm still not sure what had overcome me that night because the next morning I woke up feeling so much better, thank goodness!
Once everyone from the group was up and ready to go, we bought a day pass for the hop-on hop-off bus that they have, and it was definitely worth it because we got a lot done in one day. Our first touristy stop was the Cathedral of Barcelona, and that was such a pretty church! There were some tourist shops as well for us to look at and buy some souvenirs. Next stop was the beaches on the coast of Barcelona, and that was such a nice change of scenery. I've been surrounded by so much architecture, which is obviously incredible, but seeing a beach and some body of water was something I definitely needed to see. We hung around on the beach, just taking in the salty air and smooth sand, until we were ready to go on the bus again. The next place we stopped at was La Sagrada Familia, and I have to say that it was one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, thing I have ever seen in my entire life. I loved it so much. We had to wait on line for about a 30-40 minutes, but it was so worth it. The colored glass stained windows made my jaw drop because when the sun hits it, it looks like a rainbow is just flooding into the church, leaving it looking stunning and so angelic. It's so difficult to explain its beauty in words, so make sure you look at my pictures below instead to understand just what I'm trying to explain. Our last stop was at Park Güell, and I was looking forward to seeing all the mosaics at this place. We were allowed in for free at 6:15, so we wandered around the Park and came across this huge rock platform that had a cross on it and it stood at the top of the park. People were allowed to climb up it, so we did, even though I'm scared of heights, and the city of Barcelona lied before us, giving us one of the best views of the whole city. Once 6:15 rolled around, we were allowed in and the mosaics were fascinating! I can't fathom how people created most of the things I've seen so far, not just in Barcelona, but everywhere else I have been too. It leaves you speechless. That night we ended up going to dinner and I ordered paella for a second time, actually being able to eat my dinner! Oh, and I can't forget the Sangria.. That was out of this world! Wow, I loved it so much, and I've never had it before, but my first time set the bar high for the rest of the Sangria's I will ever have in my life. On Sunday, we sadly had to leave Barcelona and come back to our home, Rome.
After Barcelona, Ashley and I went to Milan for a weekend trip. Some of you may or may not know that my dad is in the hair business industry. He is a hair product distributor and he also has his own line of hair products that he makes, solely for hair salons. One of the companies he works with though is IT&LY, and they are a major hair color line, and their factory is located in Milan. My dad's good friend, Ivano, works at IT&LY and he told me that when I came to Italy I had to come and visit him in Milan, which is one of the major reasons why Ash and I ended up going, which I'm so glad we did because it was such a cool weekend, especially since it was fashion weekend. We started off our trip with going to IT&LY and seeing their factory and meeting some of the workers there. We got to look at how hair products are created, packaged, and executed. It was a surreal experience, and I know my dad was more than a little jealous of me. After walking around the company's factories, we ended up going to downtown Milan. Milan reminded me of New York City a bit with its hustle and bustle. Ashley and I saw the main attraction of Milan, the Milan Cathedral, and then we walked around to look at all the high-end stores, such as Versace, Gucci, Prada, Fratelli Rossetti, you get the picture. Once we finished walking around Milan for a couple of hours, we went back to our hotel and went out to eat dinner with Ivano. The food in Milan, and just like everywhere else in Europe, was delicious of course. On Sunday, we had a bit of time to kill before we had to make our train that was at 2, so Ivano took us to Certosa di Pavia, which is a monastery located about 20 minutes outside of Milan and I'm so happy we went there because it was remarkable.
The week after Milan was midterm week, so a lot of studying was happening here, but we did take a day trip to Tuscany the next weekend, which was a nice break. We went wine tasting at two different wineries, Montepulciano and Montalcino, and even though it rained for almost the whole day, it didn't take away from our great experience. The first winery we went to was at Montepulciano and that was a small, fourth generation family-owned winery. The sister and her two brothers owned it, and the sister was the one who hosted us for some of the afternoon. She showed us around, and then she had us sit in their restaurant, where we got served an outstanding three course meal, while also tasting four different wines. The main dish was made by her and her sister-in-law and they made us fresh, homemade pasta with her sister-in-law's own sauce that she makes, and it was so good. The wines that they served us were delightful as well. We then went to Montalcino, where we went to winery that was a lot bigger, but just as good as the last one. There we tried three different wines, while also munching on some breadsticks. The views at the winery were especially breathtaking.
Yesterday, Tuesday, was a little different than most of my Tuesday's here because the Sacred Heart choir was here in Rome for their spring break to perform, and myself and all the other study abroad students went to go see them sing their concert in church. They were unbelievable and did such a great job! Afterwards, we went out to dinner with them and our president, Dr. Petillo, which was so fun! I loved seeing some of my best friends back at my school. I've been missing Sacred Heart, so seeing so many familiar faces was such a nice change up! So thank you to Dr. Petillo for bringing us all together and treating us to an outstanding dinner!
After an incredible past three weekends, some of my friends and I decided to take a little break this weekend and be in Rome. Even though it's great to be able to travel all around Europe, I feel it is also important to spend some time at the place you're studying abroad in. Next week, though, we will be traveling again, and this time it will be to Krakow, Poland! The crazy part of all of this is that I will be leaving here in less than two months! I'm halfway done with this semester, and I feel like it was just yesterday that I was writing my first blog about my transition to Rome and how nervous and excited I was to be here. It's been one heck of a ride, and I'm excited to see what lies ahead. Until next time though, ciao!