Monthly Archives: April 2012

Nice is Nice

The school had the final trip to Nice, France for the weekend of Easter. We took a bus so transportation was included which was really nice. It took seven hours to get from Florence to Nice, but it was fun because the GIF group has become so close.

Friday morning we had a three-hour walking tour through old town Nice. It was one of the best tours I have been on, mostly because the tour guide was really fun and everything he was telling us was interesting. We hiked through the local market, saw an old French palace, hiked to the top of the hill to get great views of the city, and ended in a big square (I forget the name). Our tour guide told us that the city is the least French like city in all of France. It has a big influence from Italy mostly in architecture and in the food. A lot of the buildings here have fake windows frescoed on to make the buildings look more balanced.

After the tour and lunch, most of us from the program went to the beach. It was SO cold and about twenty people got in the water, I do not know how they got in the water because it was literally freezing, and probably only 63 degrees out. We looked like the crazy Americans who don’t get to see water enough.

I also got to see Kelsey Cycan again! We just happened to be in the same town at the same time. We visited in the park and exchanged some more trip stories.

Friday night my dad showed up! It was so exciting! I tried to brag that I am really good at reading maps, and then of course I jinxed myself trying to find the parking garage. We went to a really cute restaurant on the main strip in Old Town and it was the first time I was legally drinking wine (US legal) with my dad.

On Saturday, my dad and I rented a moped and drove up the coast to Monaco. It was a windy day but such a beautiful coastline! I felt like I should’ve been in a James Bond Movie! We had lunch by the casino, walked around, and then headed back. For dinner, he took Carly, Cammy, Montana and me to dinner. We had a great time telling him stories about trips and what not.

On Easter Sunday, Faja and I had brunch at a little crepe café. We walked around the city to get some exercise and we checked out a few of the churches but they were packed! We ended up laying on the beach and getting the worst tan lines of our lives because we just layed in our clothes.Kate and Matt Munther showed up later that night…just in time for dinner! We went to the most amazing restaurant ever, everything had truffles!!!

On Monday, we took another stop in Monaco and then on to Florence. We hit four hours of traffic just getting to Genova so we stopped in Lucca for dinner at Buca di San Antonio. The best part was the wine tasted like butter! Oh and I had more truffles in a bowl of pasta…

 

Both on their phones….

Then they fell asleep….

Gobble, Gobble

On Friday, Carly and I left for spring break. We detoured from the rest of the group who left for Santorini, Greece by first visiting Istanbul, Turkey. We trained to Milan and had a direct flight into Istanbul.

Istanbul was amazing! We had an hour drive and traffic to get to our hostel (traffic reminded us of LA). We stayed at the Bahaus Hostel, which was two blocks away from the Blue Mosque. We drove in and were in awe that we were so close! We checked into our hostel and went to get dinner because we were so hungry. This man approached us about his restaurant on the roof of the hotel with a view of the city, so we decided to try it out. It was pretty good and of course the views were amazing.

On Saturday morning, Carly and I headed straight to the Grand Bazaar. It was huge! It is the largest open market in the world! And we were able to spend less then two hours in there (we had had practice in Morocco, which is the third largest in the world). The shops in the Bazaar were fascinating though! There were scarves, lamps, clothes, fake designer brands, sheets, towels, table clothes, jewelry…basically anything you could imagine! We left the bazaar and got lunch at this little Turkey restaurant. I had a vegetarian kebob, which was really good and nice to get some vegetables in my stomach!

Following lunch we visited the Blue Mosque. It was interesting because it is actually still used today. Men were able to walk through into the front of the church and pray, while the women were stuck in the back and had to have their heads covered. Even for us we had to take our shoes off and cover our heads. It was very interesting. We went back to the hostel and took a short nap.

After our nap we were on a hunt for something sweet. We asked a friend on the corner a good place for dessert and he told us on the other side of the river. So we took a walk through the park and across the bridge and on the other side of the water, and we ended up not ever finding the place he was talking about. However, we found a little café where you picked your meal and sat down to have them bring it to you. We bought four desserts and shared them (we wanted to immerse ourselves in the Turkish culture) and then we were still hungry and we decided to order more food. We didn’t realize how much food we really ordered and we couldn’t even finish it!

Our hostel held events throughout the weekend and on Saturday night they had a pub crawl where we paid 5euro and were taken to the bar scene. It ended up not really being a pub crawl, and Carly and I ended up leaving because we just wanted to eat and waffles are a nightlife specialty food in Istanbul.

On Sunday we met up with Carly’s friend from high school’s best friend in college (if that makes sense). She took us to a good local Turkish restaurant and then we visited the Asian side of Istanbul. On the other side of the river, we drank some tea but didn’t do too much more. We ate kebobs for dinner and went to sleep early for our early flight to Greece!

Viva espagna (Part II)

I went on a school trip to Sevilla, Spain the second weekend of March. We had to buy our own transportation there, so Cassie and I flew together and had a layover in Barcelona where we switched airports and got to be back in the city. It was really nice to have been there the weekend before just because we knew the city pretty well.

On Friday morning, we had a four-hour walking tour around Sevilla. We visited the Jewish quarters, the Spainish Cathedral, and Plaza de Espana. We went to Starbucks probably three times just in this day because we missed walking around with coffee cups. It sounds really sad, but I guess it’s the simple things in life that makes us happy.

 

The school provided dinner for us as well as a Flamenco show. It was sort of funny because they’re moves were so dramatic. It was very entertaining all in all.

On Saturday the school took a trip to Cordoba, but Cassie, Rachel, and I stayed to visit with Kelsey Cycan (my freshman roommate from LMU who transferred back to University of Maryland)! I was so excited to see her and she was able to show us around the city to all of her favorite places!

Kelsey took us down to the river where we drank Sangria in the sun and then took a paddleboat ride down the river. We went to a little restaurant for lunch and had Tapas. We took naps later that afternoon and met back up with Kelsey for dinner at a Japanese restaurant (because we could not eat any more tapas). Kelsey and I went to the local bar scene and had a mojito, but we didn’t stay for long because we were both so tired from a long week. It was so great to see her though!

On Sunday, Cassie and I left early out of Sevilla but had a long layover in Barcelona. It was really nice because we were able to go to MILK (our favorite brunch place in Barcelona)! It was a very exciting day because we then spent the afternoon at Starbucks with a coffee, free wifi, and comfortable couches to get some homework done.

Siena, San Gimaniagno, Cinque Terra, & Lucca

I apologize for being so far behind in blogging! Renie and Andrea arrived last week and between visitors and school it is hard to get blogging time in!

Last Tuesday, the three of us walked up to Piazza Michelangelo and got beautiful views of Florence!

Last Wednesday, they came with me on my school tour to the Pitti Palace. It was really fun, and they enjoyed saying they went to the Gonzaga University for a day!

Following the tour, we took a day trip to Siena and San Gimaniagno. We took the bus so it was sort of a rough drive but it was an adventure! We visited the Cathedral in Siena and the palace where they have the horse races.

In San Gimaniagno, we climbed up to the top of the tower and got beautiful views of the Tuscan hillsides! After our little bit of exercise, we thought it would be good to have some gelato! And we went to the best gelato place worldwide!

On Thursday, we headed up to the Cinque Terra. We stayed in Manarola for two nights, but were able to visit each of the five towns. The town that had been destroyed by the mudslide was very sad, however, was constantly being worked on. Due to rockslides, the only trail open was the love trail, so we got to be lazy and take the train from town to town.

Saturday morning we visited Ponte Venerre and walked up to the church. We had to take a bus here and it was quite an experience. We all felt a little sick from the driving and the fact that the bus was packed with people!

Saturday night we stayed in Lucca at Hotel Universo! We were able to do some shopping, eat dinner, and get gelato (where the owner made me speak Italian to him and it was a complete failure)!

On Sunday, Renie and I went to mass for Palm Sunday. We first went to Michele Church but there was a palm parade (even though we held olive branches) and we walked with the group to the Cathedral. It was a packed service because the Bishop was there giving mass. We barely understood anything but were able to follow because it was similar to most Catholic masses.

We ended up back in Florence Sunday afternoon with enough time for me to get some homework done!

!Hola Spagna ~ Barcelona!

A few weekends ago, my friends and I went to Barcelona. It was a really fun trip. There ended up being nearly 20 of us that went on the trip, so it was a little crazy at times. Carly, Tom and I ended up leaving the group to do our own things because it is so hard to get anything accomplished with 20 people in a big city.

On Thursday, we arrived in the afternoon and checked into our hostel. We then walked to a really good sandwich place where we had to wait in line for an hour but it was totally worth it. The sandwich place was near the beach so after we ate we walked to the beach. It was a beautiful beach, and I had no idea that Barcelona would’ve had such a thing. I felt like I was on vacation in Hawaii or something (except it was cold). Carly and I met up with a friend who we met in Morocco for dinner Thursday night. It was really fun to be able to catch up with her and getting some good tips on where to go, what to eat, and everything else in Barcelona.

On Friday, Carly, Tom, and I got up and went on a double-Decker bus through ALL of Barcelona. And when I say all, I mean all! We did both routes and got off at about half of them. It was really fun to be able to see the Sagrada Famiglia, the cathedral, the Olympic stadium, the port, Park Guelle, and much more!

 

On Saturday and Sunday morning we went to this amazing breakfast restaurant. I had the best eggs Florentine of my life! The owner started the restaurant with students studying abroad in mind who miss American big breakfasts, and it is amazing! We all visited the Picasso Museum after brunch. It was very interesting, however, there wasn’t any of his big works in this museum, but the history and development of Picasso was very interesting.

 

And I wonder why I am gaining weight (check next photo):

Saturday night, a group of us went to the Barcelona futbol game! It was so much fun. It sort of reminded me of an LSU football game, but there was a soccer field in the middle of the stadium. It was not as crazy as I imagined it to be but it was so much fun. And they won which always makes a sports event exciting!

Before flying out on Sunday morning before we flew out and after breakfast, we went and stalked the W hotel. It overlooked the beach and as always, there were green apples available!