After a horrible train ride to Napels (what do you expect for 10 Euros?), we went to our B&B and Pompei. Our weekend plans on the Amafi coast was, surprise surprise, ruined by the rain. So we decided to stay in this tiny little city instead. We trudged through the rainfall to spend over 5 hours at the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii, and I loved it! Such an amazing thing to have been preserved for 2,000 years… Anna and I gave up on following the map and got lost among the houses, guessing which rooms served what purpose and who might have lived there. We even stumbled upon the city brothel, complete with dirty paintings on the wall (okay we didn’t stumble upon it, we searched for it for like 20 minutes shhh).
We were waiting upon hand and foot by a man, his wife, and his father who didn’t speak a word of English. What I would have given to have a conversation with him—I could tell just by his spirit that he had so many stories to tell. We meet quite a few interesting people from all over the world and I spent my Easter more relaxed that I had been in months.
To round out our 12 day adventure, we climbed Mount Vesuvius and were rewarded with the most incredible view of the Bay of Napels. Our tour guide told us that the volcano could erupt at any time—except today, of course. The steam coming from the crater wasn’t very convincing of that..
And then there was Rome.
I hung out with the Pope, some ancient Roman ruins, 5 wonderful people from USD, and the best gelato of my life. I thought I would hate how touristy the city was, and while it was a drawback, I still loved Rome. We must have passed by the Coliseum at least a dozen times, but it only got more incredible each time.
Our time in Rome culminated in Good Friday service of Stations of the Cross lead by the Pope in front of the Coliseum—a experience I won’t soon forget. St. Peter’s Basilica easily tops my list of churches I’ve ever seen, even more stunning than Sagrada Familia.
My favorite part is while I was complaining about how limited the Metro system is (nothing is really fair in comparison to Vienna ;)), I realized that it’s because of all the Roman ruins prevent them from being able to! Best reason for crappy public transportation if I ever hear of one. Turns out it took them 35 years to build what they currently have because every time they dug a little more… BAM! Another discovery.
I left a little of my heart, my dignity, and my pants Roma. I don’t know if I’ll be back, but I loved you indeed.
Next stop, Valencia
We took the 2 hour bus to Valencia in hopes to relax in the sun along the Mediterranean… but the rain and cold decided to burst that bubble. So much is traveling in early April, lesson learned.
Well not the biggest success in the world, we met some cool people at our hostel, saw some really fun museumes, and got a taste of what Spain without the tourists looks like. And a male sweaty flamenco dancer… awkwarddd.
First there was Barcelona
(Or as the Spanish say, “Barthcelona” ;))
Spring Break 2012. One of those European adventures that people usually only dream of began with a city I’ve always wanted to visit. After my first RyanAir flight that actually went really well, we spent a full day on the beautiful beach, drinking Sangria, and enjoying the infamous Spanish nightlife, all of which exceeded my expectations.
My favorite was our bike tour that allowed us to explore most of Gaudie’s work, and we took the next day to get a closer look at the Sagrada Familia, that has been under construction for over a century and won’t be done for another few decades, and the Gaudi park.
I could see myself living in Barcelona. I was surprised how much Spanish I knew (And how different Catalan is from Spanish!) and I think I’ve perfected my Spanish lisp.
Well it’s official: The hills are, indeed, alive with the sound of music. I checked.
Salzburg, Austria, was incredible. The weather was a perfect 70 degrees, the snow was still on the Alps, and there wasn’t as many tourists as there normally are in the summer. We paid too much for the Sound of Music Tour (which I had just watched the night before… shh), paid too much for a trip up to the fortress, and found a priceless, untouched green hill with perfect views to sing and spin on. Oh and good beer and an adorable Irish bartender— I mean, it was St. Patrick’s Day and all.
Next up: midterms. Joy.
If you know me, you know I love war history (are you sensing a trend here?). So on a free Sunday afternoon, Anna and I headed to Mauthausen, a concentration camp in the northwest portion of Austria.
It was a rainy, gloomy day, and somehow it made the experience all the more real. The most intense part was when I began to ignore my audio guide and wandered around… and ended up in gas chambers and crematorium all by myself, in the dark and the cold. They had a wall of photos of people suffering, and while most people shy away from things of that short, I think it’s the least I can do in their honor to get the full experience. Why should I cling to comfort when they didn’t have the option to?
It was an experience I have wanted to have since I was a teenager, and I hope I won’t be the last camp I visit during my time abroad.
Welcome to Springtime in Vienna. It’s my glorious, glorious prize for having survived one of Europe’s coldest winters on record.
Last Thursday, I was done with all of my classes by noon and couldn’t believe how beautiful it was when I walked outside. Walking the same boring route I do everyday seemed like a crime, so I took a different way. And this different way took me to an incredible place called Stadtpark (City Park). So I went inside. And found a lake. Full of ducks. And I hung out with said ducks for an hour and a half, watching them chase after the bread old people and moms with their children were feeding them. I also enjoyed listening to the conversations around me in German, which I was understanding an unusual amount of (a lovely surprise that makes me feel like my efforts aren’t in vain).
And I went back the next day, picnic lunch and friends in tow. And I napped on the grass in the 75 degree sun. There have been very few moments in my life that I can compare to such happiness.
Vienna, you’re making it impossible to even think about leaving you.
Welcome to Venice, where there is no such thing as a bad photograph.
Next stop: Poland. Then Midterm land.
I learned how to ice skate here yesterday <3 And tonight I leave for Venice.
not real life.
Tumblr, meet Baden bei Wien. A cute little town outside the city where royalty used to go to relax. We went Saturday with our goal just to visit the thermal baths (!!), and ended up on a cute little hiking area. It was so amazing to be in the fresh air and outdoors after living in the city for so long now. It’s funny how temperature is relative… it was probably only 55f but it felt HOT.
One of my favorite things I’ve done so far in Austria was the Römertherme. 10 euros and three hours of thermal baths… worth every penny. We even shelled out an extra 5 euros for the sauna, which was easily the best part. I felt like I sweated out every toxin in my body. But there were so many of naked (old) people in a very small space… so many old people…