The End’s Not Near, It’s Here
(Haha Band of Horses influenced title)
I’m sitting on the plane to Orlando right now and cannot wait to get home. I really didn’t want to leave Europe but the fact that when I get to Orlando I get to see Bobby’s face is making me so anxious to be home already.
I can’t believe my trip is over. I can’t even begin to process everything I have experienced for the last 6 weeks. I can’t wait to get home and upload all of my photos and laugh and miss everything and everyone.
Yesterday, my last day in Europe, I went to Barcelona with Emily. I really wish I could have spent more time there but it was nice to see for a day. We got up fairly early and took a train that felt like it took forever. When we got there, we hopped in a cab and headed to the hotel that I booked for the night. It was called Hotel Nouvel and was surprising really nice. The interior was awesome. We checked in, dropped off our bags, and headed out.
We first just walked around and window shopped near La Rambla, which is the main huge street of Barcelona. We started getting hungry and wanted to make our way to La Sagrada Familia. Next to the metro stop to get us to Sagrada Familia was a tapas restaurant. We got a bite to eat and then got on the metro.
The metro in Barcelona is the cleanest metro I’ve ever been on in any city. I was mind blown by it. Very clean and very easy to navigate. In just a couple stops we got off.
La Sagrada Familia is a huge basilica that was begun by Gaudi in the late 1800s. If you don’t know any of Gaudi’s work, go look him up immediately. Anyways, during the construction of the basilica, which Gaudi was paying for with his own money due to a lack of funds, he was hit by a bus and killed. Then in the 1930s-40s ish the church burnt and lost in the fire were almost all of Gaudi’s original plans and models. Some photographs of plans and pieces of models were recovered, but not much. Since Gaudi’s death the basilica had been being worked on based off of his plans and what people would have imagined his plans to be. It is sad that we will never know exactly what it was supposed to look like but the Gaudi influence is clearly there. The whole building is super organic looking and the interior reminds you of a forest. Gaudi envisioned that the entire would feel as if you were walking through a forest, too. It was absolutely breathtaking and probably the most unique structure I’ve ever been in.
After spending some time at La Sagrada Familia, we hopped in a cab to get to Parc Guell. Parc Guell is a park that overlooks Barcelona and entirely designed by Gaudi. It was absolutely beautiful and the view of the city was amazing. I could have spent hours and hours there but after walking around for a while we were both exhausted.
We headed back to the hotel to shower and change. After freshening up we headed back out to explore. We walked around for a while and eventually came across a tiny little plaza. It was a really cute area and I think I liked it a lot because there were basically no tourists there. We grabbed a couple pints at a bar and chatted. It was a lot of fun and the weather was perfect.
Eventually we were getting extremely hungry so we wandered to find a place to eat. Emily had told me about some plaza that had a really good seafood restaurant in it that she loved but she didn’t know where it was. As we were walking down a street I looked to my left and saw an opening into a plaza. We went into it and found exactly what she was talking about!
We had dinner at a place called MariscCo. It is all sea food and I don’t typically eat sea food but it was my last day of vacation so screw it. We got Arroz Negro which was a cuttle fish paella. The paella was black because of the ink from the cuttle fish. Usually something I would stay away from but I was willing to try something new. And I’m glad I did because it was AMAZING! As an appetizer we also had veggie raviolis that were really good. But man that paella blew my mind. I did feel terribly sick afterwards, probably from over eating, and because it is so different from what I usually eat. I still feel sick. But it was worth it. There was a British couple next to us at dinner that we chatted with for a while but the guy was a pretentious ass and I was happy to leave before our conversation kept dragging on.
After dinner I was so exhausted but we wanted to grab drinks somewhere because it was my last night! We walked around in circles for a while and couldn’t really find a place that looked worth while. Eventually we went into a bar and it was cool. There was some Argentinian dude there talking to us and it was so nice to hear and understand Spanish that I am used to. Spaniards just speak differently and I am not used to it. After a while it got late so we went back to the hotel.
I woke up this morning around 7 and got all of my luggage packed. The hotel called a taxi to pick us up and drop Emily off at the train station and me at the airport. We left and were on our way. Said goodbye to Emily in the taxi at the station and then went to the airport.
When I got to the airport I had time to kill and got to grab coffee and some fruit. My flight left at 10:45 Barcelona time. The flight was so long, 9 hours, and exhausting. There was a young child siting behind me kicking my seat the whole time so it was really hard to relax. Luckily, the plane had TVs on the back of every seat with free movies. I watched a couple movies and tv shows. Hardly slept. Still so exhausted. I was sitting in a row of 4 seats with one other passenger. He was a dude from Southern California and had just finished traveling through Europe with some friends. We chatted a little bit and he was nice. Towards the end of the flight we were flying I circles because of the weather and it ended up being like Hal an hour. I was getting really anxious because I had another flight to catch! Eventually we landed and I made my way to customs.
I don’t understand why but I had to wait for my suitcase at the baggage claim, go through a second customs person, then recheck my bag, and go back through security. Doesn’t make sense but that whole process took so long and I was starting to panic a little. I just wanted to get home and the thought of missing my flight made my head spin. Luckily I got to my gate just as the last passengers were boarding.
This flight is supposed to land soon and has been really miserable. It is super turbulent and I feel very nauseous. It’s been turbulent throughout the whole flight. Almost home though. Need to stop typing because I might puke. Bleh
I just wrote so much and it all deleted and I am bummed but oh well. Here it goes again.
So this is officially the sixth week that I have been in Europe! I have seen and experienced so much and made some friends that will last a lifetime. Hopefully that I have been able to share my experiences well enough despite the lack of photos. I get home Thursday and can’t wait to be able to post some of the highlights of my trip.
I’ve been in Spain for a few days now and it has been so relaxing and a great way to end my travels. I’m sitting on my brothers balcony in Girona drinking tea and before I started to write this I was reading the Great Gatsby. Can’t wait to go on a date with Bobby when I get home to go see it. I’m going to back track to when I got to Spain and write about the last few days.
So I arrived in Barcelona around 8 pm, went to the baggage claim, grabbed my luggage, and headed towards the taxis. When I stepped outside I almost felt like I was in Miami. Lots of people everywhere yelling Spanish. It was such a familiar sound, especially compared to French, until I heard their accents. Spaniards speak so much differently than my Cuban family, it sounds like the have a lisp. Then I started seeing Catalan signs everywhere, which is basically a mix between Spanish, French, and Italian. So weird. I was thrown off. Anyways I got in line for a taxi, hopped in a cab, and told the driver to take me to the Estacion Sants, a train station in Barcelona.
The drive was whatever, mostly highways so I didn’t get a good look at the city. When I got to the train station I headed for the information desk to ask what train to take to Girona. I approached the counter and said, “Tengo que ir a Girona,” and before I could even ask what train I needed to take he responded in the fastest Spanish I had ever heard. I felt dumb but asked him if he could seak Spanish. The on,y train left at 21:55 and arrived at 23:01. I was so exhausted and just wanted to get there as fast as possible, but it was my only option so I bought the tickets and waited for the train.
The train ride felt never ending and by the time I was on the train my sickness had hit me full force. My throat was hurting, I was coughing up a storm, my nose was runny, all that grossness. I felt miserable and was struggling to keep my eyes open. There were two men and a teenager next to me and they were all clearly talking about me in Catalan. I was so frustrated and kept shooting them death stares. We finally made it to Girona and I grabbed my luggage and hopped off the train. My brother, JC, was waiting for me outside and it was so nice to see a familiar face. We walked to their apartment, which isn’t far from the station. We stayed up and chatted for a while and then I passed out. What a long day of traveling.
Friday I woke up feeling not so hot. I don’t know where the sickness came from, maybe lack of sleep, but I wasn’t happy about it. Unfortunately too my nephews just got over being sick before my arrival and I know my sister in law, Emily, was nervous I would get them sick again. Anyways, after I woke up and had some breakfast and coffee, Emily as I went to walk around for a little bit. I got a taste of Girona, which is a really cool city. It’s fairly small but still feels like a big city. We also went to Zara, which is based here in Spain and is so much cheaper than in the states. I got a couple cute things. I was then starting to feel adults so we came back to the apartment. I think I napped and then we had dinner, not really sure. I went to bed fairly early I think. But most importantly, I got to rest.
I think I slept in for a little on Saturday, I don’t really remember. The boys went with Emily to a birthday party and JC and I went to explore the old part of the city. There are old Roman ruins of a wall that circled the city and a huge medieval area of Girona. It is really awesome. My brother showed me an old church. On the side of it there is a figure of a witch and the legend is that she had a really dirty mouth and one day she turned to stone and now water drains out of her mouth to rinse it. Cute. We kept walking around and then it started pouring. I mean torrential down pour. We took cover under these long arched corridor things that are lined with shops and cafes. We stopped at one place and had beers and a light lunch. We shared patatas bravas, which are seasoned potatoes, some fresh seasoned cod with veggies, and shrimp. It was all fresh and delicious. I haven’t eaten fish in so long and I know my body has been craving protein so I gave in. I can’t wait to get back to my normal diet at home though.
When the storm cleared up, we headed back to the apartment. I probably napped or something, I’m not sure. Then we had dinner and hung out for a while. After the boys went to bed my brother and I decided to go out for my last weekend night in Europe. Crazy! We got ready and headed out. First we went to this place Konig, which is a chain that is all over here, and had a couple beers. Then we went to a few other places. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to spend time with my brother. We have never really gotten to spend one on one time with each other so it was cool. When we got back to the apartment I went right to sleep but woke up in the middle of the night coughing like crazy. I had probably been coughing for over an hour and couldn’t fall back asleep when Emily woke up and made me tea. I drank it and fell right asleep like it was magic.
Sunday I woke up and we got ready to go to the beach. There is a beach about 45 min away that is next to Greek and Roman ruins. We drove there and when we got there it was so beautiful. It is part of Costa Brava, a beautiful part of the coast here in Spain. I fel like I was in paradise. I hadn’t been to a beach in so long and can’t wait to go when I’m back in Florida. We hung out for a while and the boys played with their dad while I chatted with Emily.
After we were there for a while, we went over to the ruins. It was really awesome to see. Especially in comparison to the ruins actually in Rome. These ruins were on the top of a hil that overlooked the Mediterranean. It was a absolutely stunning view. I am going to miss the luxury of exploring such old sites when I go back to the states. Ugh why can’t I just move to Europe.
We got burnt out after a while and headed back to Girona. I probably napped when we got back, had dinner, and went to sleep again. It’s been so nice to catch up on sleep here. Especially because I barely slept while in Rome and Paris. And for the whole last month in general.
When I woke up on Monday, my brother and I chatted about different things I could do for the day. He mentioned going to Figueres to see the Dali museum. I really wanted to go but I knew Emily hated museums. When she got back from taking the boys to school we mentioned it to her. At first she was reluctant but I think she felt bad and gave in. We headed to the train station to get over to Figueres. Buying tickets was a pain in the ass and it seemed like no one that worked there knew what they were doing. After waiting for abou 3 minutes, getting in three different lines, and trying an electronic machine, we finally got out tickets. We hopped on the train and in literally 5 minutes we were there. We were pretty confused because it seemed like way to short of a ride, but it was a high speed train so we got off and started walking to the museum.
Figueres was unimpressive. We got kind of lost in a kind of shitty neighborhood and asked for directions three times. There were two other American girls following us there too because they were clueless. We finally got to the museum, which is really easy to spot from a distance. There is this big glass dome thing on the top and a bunch of gold figures and egg figures on the exterior. Very surreal. Very Dali. We got tickets and headed inside.
The museum is in an old theater, and when I realized that after it made much more sense. When I had been unaware of this fact, the lay out was really confusing. I think after talk g a Visual Arts Administration class last semester that focused primarily on museums, I am a total museum snob and critic now. The signage was awful, the labels sucked, and the lay out was just kind of confusing. The cool thing about the museum though was that Dali designed everything inside of it. It was also really interesting to see the variety of his work. Some of the pieces you could lay next to each other and never expect that Dali did both of them. It was interesting, but I think my expectations were too high. I’m excited to go to the Dali museum in Tampa and compare the to.
After the museum we grabbed lunch at Konig. We had some entrepans, which are sandwiches and literally mean between breads which I think is funny. After lunch we walked around looking for a taxi, finally found one, and went back to the train station. We got tickets and were on the next high speed train out of Figueres.
When we got back to the apartment I probably napped (haha) and then we had dinner. The same thing we have been doing the last few days. It’s so relaxing though. Part of m feels guilty for not taking advantage of the fact that I am in Spain, but my body is just so exhausted. At least it was the first day that I wasn’t miserably sick. I went to bed early again.
Today I woke up and had some coffee and breakfast. Emily took Luca to school and I hung out with Sammy. When she got back we got ready to go explore Girona some more. We walked through the medieval part and made our way to the Roman wall. As we got closer and closer to the wall, it got more and more beautiful. There were gardens and vines ad trees everywhere. It looked like a dream world. We then went to the top of a hill that looked over the city. It was a beautiful view and small hike. I wish I could do stuff like this in the states. Stupid America. We then walked along the walk for awhile and it was awesome.
After exploring we stopped at a cafe for coffee/tea and a snack for Sammy. Then we headed back to the apartment. I stopped at a post office to send out some post cards. I swear every line I have gotten into this last week is cursed because it took forever. Then I watched Sammy at the apartment when Emily went to the market. Then I napped (surprise!!!) and now I am relaxing on the balcony. We are having burritos for dimmer and the beans and whatever else inside smell amazing.
Tomorrow I am going into Barcelona in the morning and will be staying the night there. My flight leaves Thursday morning out of Barcelona so it wouldn’t make sense to come back to Girona. I booked a hotel that basically on La Ramblas, the famous main road of Barcelona. I’m excited to see Barcelona and all of the Gaudi architecture. I wish I could have spent more time in Barcelona, but my hopes are high that I will be back here sooner than later.
More iPhone photos. Miss these guys so much already!
A Vine from last night.
iPhone photos from Paris!
I’m currently sitting in Charles de Gaulle airport waiting to board a plane to Barcelona. My flight isn’t till 6:30 but I had to check out of the apartment early so I got here around 10 or so. At first I was kind o nervous about trying to find my way to the airport on the metro alone but it was surprisingly much easier than I expected. I miss everyone but it feels really good to be alone. I feel like I can relax.
Anyways, Paris was great and I am sad to be leaving so soon. There is so much that I want to see but 2 days is just not enough. I’m going to write about the last two days to catch y’all up on my adventures!
Tuesday morning we took it easy in comparison to the last month. We all woke up slowly because we didn’t want I rush. I made coffee and we danced around to the songs that we have been singing for the last month. I will post that list later. We all got ready and then headed out for the day.
There was a small bakery across the street from the apartment so we grabbed some croissants and pastries. The croissant was delicious! The woman that works there is adorable and was really patient with us. People got annoyed with us really easily. It’s hard I be in that big of a group. We then hopped on the metro which was right between our apartment and the bakery and headed towards the area by the Louvre. The metro was super easy to figure out. It made me miss New York.
When we got off the metro we started walking and ran into the Louvre. (When I said that to Bobby, he asked me if it hurt. Hehe. Miss him) There was some small rent outside that was some kind of exhibition and we went in. It was a bunch of photographs about weaving and making linen and they had cool installation pieces too. We kept going after we stopped in there.
We decided to walk passed the louvre to see the glass pyramid. The louvre is closed Tuesdays so that’s why we didn’t go in. It was beautiful and a beautiful day and I think we all just felt really blissful. We were finally in Paris! After spending some time there we kept walking and exploring.
We were planning on going to the Musee d’Orsay but when we got outside the line was huge and we were starving. We decided to head towards the Eiffel Tower to eat lunch in the park.
As we were walking there it felt like we were chasing the tower. It kept disappearing behind buildings but it was so exciting to just guess which way to go every time it would peak out between buildings. We then passed a Starbucks and I got really excited. I haven’t missed anything like food or drinks from home until I saw the Starbucks. I don’t even drink it ever at home but I think the familiarity of it made it that much more appealing. We all grabbed coffees and sat for a minute.
When we finally got to the park in front of the tower we were all super excited. It was so surreal standing in front of it. We grabbed food and champagne at a little concession stand in the park. It wasn’t great food but at that moment nothing really bothered me. It was beautiful outside and we laid in the grass looking up at the tower for a while.
After having a relaxing moment we decided to head to the Notre Dame. We all agreed to do the Orsay the next day since it was already getting late in the afternoon. We walked for a while to the Notre Dame stopping at places on the way. Paris is so beautiful and I’m so sad that I don’t get to spend more time here. It was so much better than Rome too. Less chaotic.
When we got to the Notre Dame we sat in front of it and talked about what the next thing would be. Rosie and Kristin went back to the apartment and the rest of us decided to keep exploring. We also went into the church but mass had just started so we left.
We kept walking and found a bar near the church. We all grabbed drinks and chatted and laughed. Te bartender was really nice too and recommended a Mexican restaurant to us that was just around the corner. We were starving and anything but pasta and pizza sounded amazing.
When we got to the restaurant it was completely packed but we waited. It was really cute an colorful inside. I had a vegetarian burrito and it was delicious. There was even guacamole with it and I was in heaven. I know I should have tried a nice Parisian restaurant but at that point I just needed food. At least I wasn’t disappointed.
After dinner we went back to the bar to thank the guy for recommending the restaurant and to have another drink. The bar was closing but he was nice enough to let us in and hang out. His name was Thomas and he was super sweet. We all sat at a table and drank and laughed for a few hours. Parisians have a bad rep but everyone I met was really sweet. Romans were the mean ones. Anyways, we stayed there for a while hanging out and when it got late Thomas was nice enough to wave a taxi down for us. We went to the apartment to go to sleep.
Yesterday was a long day. We woke up pretty early so we could get tothe louvre at a decent time. I had barely slept, which has become a pattern this trip, and the whole month has been catching up with me. My whole body aches.
Anyways, we all got ready, grabbed croissants and breakfast at the bakery, and hopped on the metro. When we got to the louvre we got in line to go inside. The pyramid of the louvre is beautiful, but once you get inside you feel like you are being cooked. It’s like a giant heater. At least it was just in that room. Anyways we bought our tickets and went in.
The louvre is insane. It is so big and doesn’t make any sense. There are about 5 levels that have so many different rooms on each. We all split up and Brittany and I explored together. We saw so much beautiful artwork. My favorite was probably the Nike of Samothrace, which is a beautiful sculpture. I also saw work by David, Rubens, Carravaggio, Da Vinci, Michelangolo , and so much more. The louvre has so much artwork in it. I’m really bummed that I didn’t get to spend more time there but we were in a time crunch. I know I will be back one day though and won’t have to run around like a crazy person.
We all met at a cafe in the museum to have lunch. After we ate we were headed for the Orsay. We were all so exhausted and our attention span was done for. We have been going into multiple museums and churches for the last month every day. My brain is having trouble digesting it all! I am so glad we went to the Orsay though. It has been my favorite museum so far.
The Musee d’Orsay is in an old train station and it is absolutely beautiful. We were in a time crunch there too because it was closing in a couple hours so we had to rush a little bit too which is really upsetting. I wish I could have spent a whole day there. Their collections were fantastic. I didn’t even realize what was in there before. My favorite stuff was in the Impressionist room upstairs. I saw some of the most famous paintings in the world. There was so much work my Manet (including the Luncheon on the grass), Monet, Degas, Renoir, Mary Cassatt, Pissarro, and more. Other artists work we saw include Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh, Mattisse, Gauguin, and more. I know I probably missed a lot but it was definitely worth going. I recommend that over the louvre any day! And it’s only €6.50 for students!
After the Orsay we split up. The other girls went to get food and go pack at the apartment. Brittany, Ana Maria, and I wanted to keep exploring. It doesn’t get dark till like 11 in Paris and we weren’t about to spend our last day/night there in the apartment (no offense ladies).
We had drinks at one of the cafes in the gardens in front of the louvre. Then we headed towards the tower to have dinner somewhere. We found a cute restaurant and went in. I got a salad and it was so refreshing. I miss fruits and veggies so much. After dinner we grabbed a bottle of champagne and went to lay in the grass in front of the tower. The tower is beautiful at night and every hour it does this little light show and I really wanted to show the girls. We laid there for a while laughing and chatting. It was perfect. It got kind of late so we hopped in a taxi and headed back to the apartment.
Maybe it was because of all the champagne, but I got really upset last night. First I was stressing about finding my way to the airport and finding my way in Spain. Then I was upset about leaving. Then I was missing Bobby. I think it was a combination of things but when I skyped with my mom it put me over the edge. The last month has been so life changing and I am so grateful for being able to be here. Thinking about it all makes me so emotional. In a good way though!
Today: Thursday 6-6-2013
This morning I woke up early and said goodbye to Kristin, Brittany, Amber, Rosie, and Zoe. I was kind of jealous that they are all going home but I know I’m going to have a good time in Barcelona. Ana Maria and I were the only ones left. We packed and picked up the apartment and headed out together. We took the metro to the Gare d l’est (spelling?). Ana Maria was taking a train to Luxembourg and I had to switch metros toget to the Gare du Nord. We said goodbye and went our separate ways.
I found my way really easily to the Gare du Nord and getting on the RER B to Charles de Gaulle was a piece of cake. I don’t know why I was stressing so hard. Probably a lack of sleep. You should see my eyes right now. Scary.
I’ve now been in the airport for about 5 hours and my butt hurts from sitting for so long. I can’t check in to he flight until 2 hours before take off so I haven’t been through security or anything. I was sitting at a Starbucks for a while just chatting with family on FaceTime and Skype. I splurged and bought Internet because I would lose my mind doing nothing.
When I get to Barcelona I have to take a taxi to the Sants train station and take a train to Girona. I hope that I will make it on time because the last train leaves at 9:45 and I arrive in Barcelona at 8:15. Ill be fine either way. I can’t wait to be with family and to see my awesome nephews. I stayed with them for a few weeks last summer and I miss them so much. I’m also excited to see my brother JC and sister in law Emily. Emily even went to the farmers market for me and got a bunch of fruits and veggies. I’m so excited! I’m going to stand up now because I think my butt fell asleep!
Au revoir! Ciao! Adios!
(Written June 6th)
I’m in Paris!
So I am laying in bed in the apartment we booked through AirBnB for Paris. The apartment is even more awesome then I thought it would be. We are going to get up soon and head over to the Musee d’Orsay and explore. I’m still exhausted I hardly slept in Rome because I stayed up late every night hanging out. But it was worth it. I miss it already. Yesterday was interesting though….
So yesterday was the day we all had to say goodbye to Zaho and either continue our travels, or go back home. Chelsea’s flight was early and she had to leave for the airport at 6 am. I had probably slept for an hour when she came tapping on my door doing the Chelsea knock. I got up to say good bye and was up for the rest of the day. I cried saying bye to her, but I know we will be hanging out at home.
I stayed up for a while, talked to Bobby, and made sure all of my stuff was together. I went downstairs for breakfast with everyone and it was just really sad. We were done with the study abroad program and all I us were excited for what’s next but it went by too fast. Emily was the next to go so we all saw her off too. Emily was great and I will miss laughing with her and the others that were in the apartment on Macci in Florence.
The taxis for the Paris group were coming at 9 so we all went downstairs. They got there sooner than I had expected so I had to say bye to Geoff and Zaho hurriedly. The second I got into the taxi I started bawling. (Can you tell I’m extremely emotional?).
The last month has been an experience of a lifetime. I have learned so much about art, the world, people, and myself. I went to Italy with 12 people that were strangers to me and left Italy with friends that will last a lifetime. I learned so much from all of them and I’ve realized much about myself as well. I’ve gotten to know these people and they are all beautiful inside and out. There were times we all wanted to rip our hair out, but at the end of the day I couldn’t be more thankful for having them in my life. And it all wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Dr. Zaho. I will be forever grateful for everything she has taught me and done for me. She saw something in each of us and chose us to join her for a month in Italy. She put up with us and stayed strong when everything was falling apart. I could go on but I’ll probably start to cry again.
So anyways, we finally got to the airport after an insane taxi ride. When we walked in we had no idea what to do. There were boards that show the flight numbers and what desks to check in, but our flight wasn’t for another 6 or so hours! We couldn’t check in for a while so we all took over a bunch of seats to wait.
Around 1 we went back downstairs to try to find the desk to check in. We finally found the number but no one was at the counter. We waited for TWO WHOLE HOURS until they finally showed up. Amber even fell asleep on her suitcase. Then finally some people that work for the airline came and even though we formed a line they pushed us back so they could rope off a square in front of the counter. It made no sense what so ever and then to check in they let us in one at a time. Only in Italy.
After we checked in we finally headed for the gate. The airport is huge and we had to take a trolley to another huge area. We all situated at some seats and grabbed food. Brittany, Amber and I really wanted to have a drink to celebrate our journey and we did. I think others were annoyed with us but we had a great time! Our gate changed so we gathered our belongings and were ready to board.
The plane was huge! It had three rows that were 2, 4, and 2 seats. I was nervous about flying with Kuwait because I read a bunch of terrible reviews online but boy were they wrong! The customer service was fantastic. They gave us face towels when we boarded and we got a free meal and drinks. The people were so nice and friendly. It was awesome. I was exhausted because I barely slept while in Rome but the flight was a lot of fun.
After about 2 hours we arrived in Paris!!! We went through customs, grabbed our luggage, and headed to the trains. I think the stress level rose the second we got to Paris because everyone was on edge. Buying tickets and getting on the train wasn’t difficult but all of our attitudes got in the way. It’s okay though I still love them all.
We took a train to the Gare du Nord, a train station in Paris. When we got off we were going to take the metro to the apartment, but it was chaotic so we went to the taxi line. The area outside of the station was gross and creepy and I got really upset because everyone was freaking out. But we made it to the apartment!
When we arrived at the apartment I called Faouzia, the woman who was letting us into the building. She was super sweet and helpful even though she couldn’t speak English. The apartment was even more awesome then it seemed in photos. It was in a really cool apartment complex that was gated and safe. The apartment was really spacious and adorable. I slept in a room with Brittany and the bed was so much more comfortable than other beds from this last month. It was pretty late when we got in and we were beat. Some of the girls went to grab snacks and wine and we hung out at the apartment.
Sunday was our last day to explore in Rome. We planned with the group to meet at Giolitti at 2 for some gelato. The rest of the day we had free. We all woke up and had breakfast in the morning an talked about our Paris trip. Then I went upstairs, packed, and got ready for the day.
Kristin really wanted to see a church designed by Borromini so she, Ana Maria, Geoff, and I went to go see it. It is a beautiful baroque building and the interior is amazing. The dome has a bunch of geometric shapes built into it, I can’t even explain it. I’m glad we went to see it because it was awesome.
We then kept walking and eventually ended up at Giolitti. It was the last gelato I had in Italy and I got Bacio, which is chocolate with hazel nut chunks, coffee, and pistachio. It was delicious and I am going to miss gelato. After gelato we wanted to get lunch. That has become a trend for this trip- dessert before meals. We had walked passed a pizza place a few days before so we went to find it again. We found it really quickly and the pizza was awesome!
Geoff’s roommate and his friends had just gotten to Rome and he wanted to meet up with them. Geoff, Chelsea, Brittany, and I went to go meet them at the Pantheon. We sat on the fountain for a while and eventually they showed up. We all planned to meet at the Spanish steps later to have dinner together.
We then headed back to the hotel to finish packing and sit with the group in the hotel lounge. We all sat around and chatted for a while and it was nice. After we spent some time together we all either went to pack or get ready to go out.
Geoff, Brittany, Chelsea and I got ready to go meet Geoff’s friends on the Spanish steps. The steps weren’t that exciting and I’m not sure why they are so hyped up. His friends met us there and we all went to have dinner. The restaurant was fantastic and I split ravioli and a tagliolini pasta with artichokes and veggies. Dinner was fantastic and it was refreshing to be around new people even though I love my study abroad group.
After dinner we all went to have drinks at a bar in the Campo de Fiore. Geoff’s friends eventually left and the four of us just sat an hung out. I was getting really bummed because Chelsea had to get to the airport really early in the morning. I didn’t want to say bye to her! After a while we got over everything and hopped in a cab to get back to the hotel. It cost so much because all of the public transportation went on strike in Rome and the taxis can charge like crazy. When we got back to the hotel we hung out for a while. I got super sad about having to say goodbye but I know I will be seeing them at home.
First of all, I can’t believe it is June. May flew by and the program is already coming to an end. Crazy.
Saturday we woke up early to go to a church where Bernini’s Ecstasy of St Teresa is. The weather was awful, really wet and cold. Zaho asked someone what bus would be best to get on and we got on the 60L. After waiting for about 30 minutes for the bus to start we were on our way. Or so we thought. The bus went wayyyy far away from what we were going to basically going in a giant circle. It was also pouring rain so none of us wanted to get off the bus. We were on the bus for over an hour and were all just laughing and goofing off. Times like that are what I will miss because even though we really just went completely out of our way we got to enjoy each other. And we all laugh like crazy together.
Anyways, we finally made it to the church right on time because they were closing soon. Emily did her presentation and we all admired the chapel designed completely by Bernini. When we left the church we realized we were like 5 blocks away from our hotel and we all were cracking up. Then we decided to head over to the Capitoline museum.
On the way, we were passing the giant birthday/wedding cake building. It is a government structure that was erected for Vittorie Emanuel II. I don’t know much about it but it is a ridiculously massive building that we passed every day. It was open and Zaho had never been inside so we went in. We climbed to the top where there was a crazy glass elevator that went to the very top of the building for a beautiful view of Rome. From the top we got to see the whole city including the Forum, the Colosseum, everything. It is so interesting to see ruins surrounded by a huge city. It was awesome.
Then we stopped in a church right between the birthday cake and the Capitoline. It was beautiful inside and had 60 insane chandeliers that lines the nave of the church. I counted. Then we went to the Capitoline.
The Capitoline was huge and had a great mix of sculptures and paintings. There was work by Caravaggio and others, and so many ancient sculptures. Some I my favorites were the original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius and the Dying Gaull. I will post photos later.
When we were heading to the other side of the museum through an underground tunnel, Zaho pointed to our left to a staircase and told us to go climb it. We had no idea what to expect. We came up to a huge balcony that overlooked the Roman Forum. It was beautiful and we stayed out there for a while. We went through the rest of the museum and then talked about our dinner plans.
We had all bought an antique book about Florence for Dr Zaho and got her a card to give to her at our last dinner. Zaho said we were going straight to the restaurant from the museum but we had to find a way to go get it. I think she was annoyed because almost half of us left to go back to the hotel to grab the gift. We went speedy quick and got to the restaurant at the same time as them.
The restaurant was called Costanza and was where ruins of the Pompeii Theater was. After we all ordered our meals and had our appetizers, we made Geoff make a short speech about the gift. We gave her the book and she teared up. Zaho said the most beautiful words and I was sobbing. We then went around and were saying our best and worst of the five senses of Rome. We were all cracking up and laughing at all the stories Geoff prefaced his answers with when this asshole Roman guy started yelling at us. Then another asshole Roman guy chimed in and soon enough they both, with their wives, were screaming at us in Italian about how loud we were being. We all got super pissed and I was giving them the evil eye. We decided to pass on dessert and Zaho made a really sassy remark to the guy which was awesome. Oh but my food. I had a vegetarian starter and split it with Kristin. It was a bunch of grilled veggies and was so amazing. Then I had spinach and ricotta ravioli that was to die for. Probably one of the top 3 meals of Italy. Anyways, dinner was really fun, even with the yelling asshole.
We headed over to the Piazza Navona to grab dessert at Tre Scalini. We went there on the first day in Rome to have their famous tartoffa (spelling?) which is basically just extremely dark chocolate with a cherry in the middle topped with unsweetened whipped cream. Brittany and I shared some and it was good but too rich for me. After enjoying our dessert in front of my fountain (the Fountain of Four Ricers) we split up. Some of us wanted to go out and the rest went back to the hotel.
Geoff, Chelsea, Brittany, Ana Maria, Krista, and I went to the Scholars Lounge for drinks. It was packed because it was a Saturday night but still fun. We all hung out and laughed and danced around just like we always do. I kept getting sad because I knew it was one of the last nights we would have to go out together. When it got later, the crowd started to get more questionable so we decided to go back to our hotel.
When we got there a few of us hung out in my room for a while and chatted. It was a great night.
Friday we went to the Borghese. We all woke up early and got taxis over to the museum. The Borghese was a palace for the Borghese family where they kept their art collection. You have to have a reservation to get in ad they are really strict and have time limits for every reservation. Our reservation was at 9 an we were right on time.
First we went upstairs where there are mostly paintings. There were 6 Caravaggios, Raphael’s entombment, another Raphael, a Peter Paul Rubens, and so much more. It was all beautiful. The entombment by Raphael was amazing but I was really upset because it is mounted really poorly. Things like that make me want to get into restoration.
We then went downstairs to where the sculptures were. I was in heaven because there was a bunch of work by Bernini. The first Bernini we saw was the Rape of Persephone. It was absolutely breath taking. I don’t know how Bernini did it, but he makes his figures look like they are really flesh. Every inch of the sculpture was beautiful and so realistic. There were even tear drops down the face of Persephone. It was so baroque and dramatic I fell even more in love with Bernini.
We kept going and saw some more of his work like his David and other pieces. But then we saw what I have been dreaming about since I discovered Bernini. The Apollo and Daphne. It is the most beautiful sculpture I have ever seen in the world and it is so much more amazing in person than in any photograph. Even the story behind it makes it more beautiful. Long story short- daphne was being turned into a tree and Apollo was trying to grab her but was too late and as he put his hand on her waist, her skin was already bark. The story and the sculpture made me so emotional. Then some idiot man touched the Bernini and I screamed. And then a older woman was holding up photos of what seemed like deceased family members as if she wanted them to see it. Brittany lost it and we all got emotional. It is incredible to me how much a piece of art can truly evoke emotions but I have experienced it more over the last month than ever before.
After our appointment was over we all went and sat outside to have some lunch. It was still kind of rainy, mainly drizzling, and we were all singing “the sun will come out tomorrow!” It is so funny how goofy we are all with each other. I will miss it so much. We then were going to have the rest of the day free because Zaho was so sick of us but we planned to do some more. We headed to a church that has tombs in the crypt that are covered from floor to ceiling in skeletons and bones. It was really cool but made me feel kind of weird. We then split up for a little bit before we met later to go to the catacombs!
Geoff, Chelsea, Kristin, Ana Maria, and I walked around to explore. We went into a couple cool shops and got gelato at Giolitti. We had a good time and I really enjoyed walking around the city a lot. Then we made our way to the train station where we were meeting the rest of the group to hop on a bus.
We all got on a bus and headed to the church where the catacombs are. At the same place is Santa Costanza, a super old structure that was built as a mausoleum for the daughter of Constantine. I was feeling really emotional, probably because of exhaustion, and had to run outside because I burst into tears. I wasn’t sad about anything specific but at that point in the trip everyone was so tense and it was just wearing on me. Brittany came and sat with me an comforted me. It’s so nice knowing that I have all of these people around to lift me up when I’m down.
Then it was time to go into the catacombs. It was really crazy and I am so happy I got to experience that. The walls were so narrow and it was dark and kind of creepy. We saw some old skeletons and what the tombs all looked like. It was awesome.
We all headed back to the hotel. Brittany, Ana Maria, and I went with Zaho to the post office to figure out what shipping would be like. We found out we had to have our own box and tape so we went to two grocery stores in the train station to get supplies. The first one let us take boxes from their recycling. The next grocery store was where we got the tape. Zaho and I went inside together and there was this creepy crazy homeless man inside that basically spit on Zaho. It was kind of horrifying so we ran out as fast as possible. I’m so grateful that she was willing to help us so much because I wouldn’t have been able to figure all that out without Italian.
When I got back to the hotel I met up with Chelsea, Geoff, Kristin, and Ana Maria to go out to dinner. We headed to the Campo de Fiore to find a restaurant. We forgot the restaurant that Zaho had recommended so we just walked around to scope them all out. It is kind f annoying because there is always someone at the front of the restaurant trying to lure you in, but unfortunately we fell for it when some guy told us, “free bruschetta, prosecco (champagne), and wifi.” The food was alright but the atmosphere was perfect. There was live music in the piazza and they played things like the Sexy Sax Man. It was so much fun. We all laugh so much when we are together I love it. After dinner we were dancing around for a little and giggling. Then we stood looking down Ito ruins where a bunch of Roman cats hang out. It was nice and relaxing. Ana Maria and Kristin wanted to go home but Geoff, Chelsea, and I wanted to go out. We had kept walking passed this bar called Scholar Lounge, which is like an Irish pub, so we decided to go there.
The three of us had so much fun. The bar was playing great music and then a band started playing cover songs. It was all American music and we just sang an danced at our table. Even though all of the places we have gone out to are more geared to young students, and hmmm Americans which we have tried to avoid, I have still been having so much fun. It’s almost like a little slice of home. It got pretty late so we walked back to the hotel to sleep.