It’s officially been over a month since I left Scotland, and oh how the time flies. I’ve been fortunate enough to have not just one, but two jobs and I usually work 6 or 7 days a week. Lucky me. The transition has been tough, but keeping in contact with the flatmates is easy. I even got to see Taylor (and Brett!) last weekend while I was in Chicago. It’s difficult to explain to people how my last semester was abroad, and I feel foolish saying “good” or “awesome” but I don’t really have any other way to describe it. I feel like that’s such a sheepish answer, but I really don’t think (most) people want the full explanation of my life across the pond. I do have a handful of friends who have really been good listeners and I’ve realized that those are my true friends. I also have a few friends who were also abroad (or are still abroad) and even though we weren’t in the same country, I feel an instant bond with them. We have the same almost didn’t make it travel stories, the same favorite drunken night stories and the same gross food I was forced to try stories to share with each other.
Anyway, I miss it a s*%t ton and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to go back as soon as possible. See you soon, Edinburgh.
This photo is from one of my first nights in Edinburgh…
Tonight my roommates and I said goodbye to Taylor, our best friend, honorary Flat 6 roommate, advice giver, voice of reason and tequila shot advocate. She’s on her way back to the States tomorrow, getting ready for her summer internship in downtown Chicago. It hasn’t set in yet, but I know this is just one of many goodbyes to come. This is so much harder than I would have expected. Luckily, Taylor and I only live about 90 miles apart during the summer and only a block or two away during the school year. But with her leaving, our entire study abroad world has been shifted. It’s finally setting in that our days here are numbered and I realize that these four months were not enough. I wish traveling throughout the United States was as easy and cheap as it is in Europe.
fact: not studying for ANYTHING for an entire semester makes it horribly awful when you have to study for ONE final exam that would be a joke back in the united states. hellllp me I forgot how to study.
Spring Break 2012: Mediterranean Cruise!!!!!
The second half of my two week Easter break was spent relaxing on a Costa cruise (we didn’t sink) with Nell and Paul. Five days of unlimited food!
We hopped on in Savona after our night in Nice and spent the afternoon exploring the boat and the buffet. That night we met the people we would be eating dinner with every night and SURPRISE they were all Americans. Two couples from Hawaii and a couple from Idaho. We had the best chocolate gelato for dinner, which I still crave. After dinner, we found the cruise’s shop and bought an enormous bag of Haribo gummy bears. They were gone by the next day (mostly thanks to Nell and me).
The first port we visited was Naples, Italy. We signed up for a shore excursion to see Pompeii. We took a bus to the ancient city and our Italian tour guide told us interesting facts about the area on our way there. Before we got there, we stopped at a shop that makes cameos, hand carved jewelry made from seashells. I was tempted to buy one as a souvenir until I saw the 250 euro price tag. Once we got to Pompeii, we listened as our tour guide took us to all the Pompeii hotspots… until it started to rain. It didn’t stop us at first and we continued on the tour, but it turned into a torrential downpour and we headed back to the bus. Luckily we got to see the highlights of the city: the amphitheater, the plastic casts of residents and the brothel! It was too bad that we couldn’t have been there longer, Nell recognized all of the sights from her high school Latin textbook. But to see it all would have taken at least two days. Once we got back to the boat, I took a hot shower and then went to the boat’s spa for a manicure.
Next we went to La Valletta, Malta, which was my favorite stop on our adventure. We didn’t have any more excursions planned, so we grabbed the map and set off exploring the city. It was beautiful! And although it rained a bit, I had bought an umbrella! Best 5 euros I’ve ever spent. We walked up and down the streets and found a few gardens and overlooks. We were only there for a few hours, but I really want to go back and see more of the tiny little country. That night was gala night on the boat, so we all got dressed up for dinner and drinks. That night we hung out in one of the boat’s lounges and people watched. I’ve concluded that the best people watching is definitely on a cruise ship where over half of the people are Italian.
Wednesday we were in Cagliari, Italy which is on the island of Sardinia. The city itself was kind of unimpressive, but the weather was in the 60s and it was sunny all day, so I can’t complain. We explored the city a bit, but then decided to get gelato and bask in the sun instead. We were heckled by a few guys trying to sell us instruments (or gourds? still not sure) and magnets, so we moved on and found a book store with a tiny English section. Then we went back to the boat and I spent the afternoon reading by the pool. I finished The Descendants in about 5 hours. It’s much better than the movie. That night was “Italian Night” on the boat, all of the waiters were wearing Italian flag bow ties and our waiter (name: Salamander) danced with us!
The next port was Ajaccio, France which is on the island of Corsica. Where Napoleon was born! The city itself was TINY, it took us about two hours to see everything on our map. But it was beautiful and we ate gelato, waffles and crepes… How French. We also popped into some souvenir shops, but I didn’t buy anything. My one regret of the trip is that I didn’t buy any souvenirs! Oh well…
We finished our trip back in Savona. After six different modes of transportation in one day, we finally made it back to London for one night. Then after a train back to Edinburgh, I was finally home! It always feels so nice to get back to the flat after traveling, even though it means I have to start studying for exams and writing essays. And now that all of my roommates are back from their travels as well, it’s like the family’s all here! As Nell pointed out today, only 17 more days in Edinburgh, so I have to soak it up as much as possible. I don’t ever want to leave!
Mom and Nell visited me for the first half of my two week Easter break. We spent a few days in Edinburgh and I had the chance to show them around my favorite city in the world. We explored Old Town, ate at Elephant House, rode the bus to Leith to see the Royal Yacht and had a tasty brunch at La Barantine.
After two full days in Edinburgh, we took the train to London. Nell was our tour guide this time, and took us to all the different tourist spots. Monday was our first full day there and it was raining, so we tried to do as many indoor activities as possible. We toured the recently opened Kensington Palace, made our way through Harrod’s, ate dinner in Chinatown and ended our day with the London Eye. We even got to see a proposal at the top, which was pretty awesome. On Tuesday, the weather was much nicer and we had a chance to walk around the city without hoods and umbrellas. We started our day at the Tower of London, then made our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral. After grabbing lunch, we stopped at Big Ben and Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. That night, we met up with Carlie for dinner (at Chipotle, since we don’t have them in Edinburgh).
On Wednesday, it was time for Mom to head back to the US. Nell and I sent her off to Heathrow on the Tube and then explored Kensington High Street before leaving to go to Paris. We took the Eurostar and after about two hours, we were at Gare du Nord. We checked into our hotel (which was actually more of a hostel, with a private room) and made our way to La Tour Eiffel. It was dark by the time we got there, but we still waited in line for about two hours to go to the top. The views were nothing short of amazing, and I instantly fell in love with Paris. We got back to the hotel around midnight and crashed.
Thursday was our only full day in Paris, so we made the most of it and saw just about everything. Since our hotel was in the Latin Quarter and close to Notre Dame, we started there. Then, we explored Shakespeare and Company, the English bookstore. I could have spent hours there. We made our way further into the city and walked around the courtyards of the Lourve. We didn’t go inside, since it’s expensive and the Mona Lisa is, from what I have heard, a bit underwhelming. Instead, we headed towards the Champs Elysees and did some window shopping. We ended our stroll at the Arc De Triomphe. On our way back, we decided to grab lunch and eat it near the Eiffel Tower. Nell and I found a hop-on hop-off boat, and took that around the river. It stopped at seven different places, but we stayed on for an entire loop to rest our feet and eventually got off at the Musee d’Orsay. I got in for free since I’m a European student, so I spent the money I would have paid to get in on the audio guided tour. It took me to all of the most popular paintings, which I have been studying for the past three years. It was great to actually see the masterpieces in person (insert “I’m reallly artsy” here). After the d’Orsay, Nell and I hopped back on the boat and took it to the Notre Dame stop. Instead of heading back to our hotel, we went to the smaller Siene island, Ile St. Louis. We got the best gelato in the WORLD! Then we stopped at a market and bought a baguette, brie and strawberries for dinner.
We headed back to London the next morning to meet up with Paul, who was flying from Chicago to meet us in time to go on our cruise…. More about that later!
less than three hours until carles barkely is in edinburgh!
My roommate Tessa and I visited her friend Riley in Brussels last weekend. I think it was a combination of good friends, good weather and a great city, but it might be my favorite weekend getaway so far! We flew into an airport that was an hour or so away from city center (thanks Ryanair), so we got in pretty late on Thursday night. Since we were all really tired, we decided to take it easy that night and go to bed early.
Friday was our tourist day. We woke up and went to a flea market. It was HUGE! So many great antiques, but nothing that would fit in my carry-on. Then we went to a small café to get sandwiches and ate them in a park. Afterwards, we went to La Grand Place which is just a big square in the city with the most stunning architecture I’ve ever seen. Of course we had to stop by the Mannequin Pis. Still confused as to why that’s a tourist attraction… We ate waffles and drank beer for the rest of the afternoon, then headed home to get ready for the night. Later in the evening, we headed back to the city to meet up with friends at a bar called Delirium. I got to see my friend Sue who is studying in Brussels and Kaley, who was just visiting for the weekend from Stockholm.
Saturday we were up early to catch a train to Bruges, a small town in the Dutch part of Belgium. When we got there, we went on a walking tour of the city. Besides the extremely boring tour guide, it was nice to walk around and enjoy the picturesque town. For lunch, Tessa and I ate a disgusting amount of frites. I’m currently obsessed with andalouse sauce. After lunch we embarked on a four hour bike tour of the countryside. It was so gorgeous. Canals, windmills and lots of green grass and fresh air. Besides a minor collision with a local, the tour was a success. Since we were on a trip with Riley’s study abroad program, they treated us to a nice dinner and dessert. Overall, it was a perfect day.
Sunday, we were considering going to the Magritte Museum, but the weather was so nice that we couldn’t bear being inside. Instead we grabbed a baguette, some cheese and grapes and headed to a park to relax in the sun. We left for the airport around 5 o’clock, with enough time to grab a kebab for dinner.