Friday, March 18, 2011

Hello, Spain. Goodbye.

 My weekend in Spain was fabulous! It started out a little rough- I felt completely overwhelmed being in Barcelona all by myself! The city is so much bigger than I had expected. I seriously wanted to just get in my bed and hide out for 2 days. Luckily, I was able to make friends with a couple of people staying in my hostel, so I didn't have to explore the city alone.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and decided to take a bus to Parc Güell. This is the most wonderfully whimsical place I have ever been! It was built in 1914 and has the most amazing architectural elements. Literally, there was a little surpising touch to everything you looked at. It reminded me of the Flinstones :)

Pretty impressive entrance

The next day, my new friend Megan and I ventured out to Las Ramblas, a stretch of street that has tons of street performers and souvenir shops. It is packed with people, and apparently notorious for pick-pockets. Luckily, we didn't run into any problems!

These people sit so still you think they are statues...very creep if you ask me!

I can't figure this one out...

We made a stop at the La Boqueria, or Mercat St. Josep. It was such a fun market! Everything was displayed so beautifully, more like artwork than food.

I wanted to die when I saw this! So sad...and weirdly humorous.

We proceeded down Las Ramblas to the port of Barcelona, and then to the beach.

This was one of my favorite sights of the day-- its hard to tell, but there is laundry hanging out of almost every single window on this street. This is what I had expected to see in Italy, but nothing came close to this.

After the beach, we took a bus to La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Gaudi, the same guy who designed the structures in Parc Güell that I mentioned earlier. This church is insane. The detail is so intricate, it's hard to capture in pictures. Gaudi died before it was completed, so it is constantly under construction (hence the ugly scaffolding that ruined most of the pictures).

Afterwards we trekked our way to Castell Montjuic. We had to take a cable car way up to the top of a mountain, where we were able to explore this castle. The views of the city were spectacular despite the fog and rain. How is it that every day I went sight-seeing, it was raining!? That's my luck.

See how HUGE La Sagrada Familia is!

Okay, now to my favorite part of Spain. MADRID! I took a train to Madrid Saturday morning and got there around lunch time. I checked into my hostel and met my roommate Fernanda, she was from Brazil. We went and had lunch together, and then I had to go back and get ready to go to the Real Madrid game! I don't know if people really understand how much I love soccer. This was the most exciting thing for me EVER! And I didn't even care that I had to go all alone. Don't get me wrong, it was quite scary having to navigate the Metro by myself and walk around the humongous stadium alone...not to mention how intimidating it was to realize that I was one of maybe 5 girls sitting amongst hundreds of middle aged Spanish men. But hey, it was so worth it. The game itself wasn't even very good..but just being in the stadium, watching some of the best players in the sport minus Cristiano Ronaldo :( was fantastic,

The next morning, Fernanda and I took a walking tour of Madrid. I fell in love with this city, or at least the part we saw. There aren't a lot of sights to see in Madrid, but walking around the city, learning its history was very interesting.

I was obessed with this building. The murals on it were so cool!

This is the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin- opened in1725.

This was so cute! Gepetto's shop- straight out of Pinocchio!

We saw the Royal Palace. The Royal family doesn't live there though--they just have state dinners and important events here. It was really big, but we didn't get a chance to take pictures of all of it.

These are just some random pictures of Spain.

All of the street signs were like this in Madrid, I loved them.

I am really glad that I stopped by Spain on my way home to Texas. It was a really nice end to my European adventure. I feel like my time was cut short with Italy and Spain- I love both places so much, and for different reasons. Italy was just Italy...almost everything you imagine it to be- old buildings and streets, amazing food, interesting people. And Spain totally surprised me. I was expecting it to be similar to Italy, but it is much more modern, in the sense that it has tons of different types of restaurants and stores. Hopefully I can go back really soon!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My heart is in Firenze...

It has been a few days since, I've updated...and I have been busy! Last Wednesday, I left Florence to go to Barcelona, Madrid, and then back to Texas. On the train ride, I couldn't help but feel like I was leaving a huge part of me in Florence. I really do love that place. Luckily, on my last day in the city, I was able to do my favorite thing- walk around the city eating gelato :) I made sure to capture some of the things that I loved most about Florence.

This is in the Piazza della Reppublica. I love watching kids play with pigeons! I think they are such creepy birds, but so pretty at the same time. Its amazing the variety of colors they have.
Okay, I will admit that I ate a ton of gelato while I was in Florence. This was by far my favorite gelateria in the city--the Cioccolato Fondente (dark chocolate) is to die for. Expensive, but so amazingly worth it.
This is a really old sandwich (panino) place. I think its been around for forever...but it is really cheap and sooo delicious. I always got the #1 with ham, arugula (rucola) and sheep cheese.
This is at the Ponte Vecchio. There is a wall on the far side of the bridge that I love to just sit on and watch the water. On this day, I was lucky and got to watch rowers go by.
And finally, probably what I will miss most about Florence. My cannoli from Paszkowski's. This place was across from our school and I bought a cannolo (I just learned that was the singular form) almost everyday. They are fabulous. On one end the cream is covered in chocolate chips, and on the other end, the cream has little pieces of orange slice on it. This place also has amazing chocolate croissants and cappuccino. Its funny how accustomed I am to having wine with my dinner, and drinking cappuccinos after meals.

Now that I think about it, there is one place that I truly love that I did not get a picture of--the restaurant in the Central Mercato. Not even kidding, this is honestly the best food that I ate my entire time in Florence. The menu changes everyday, but everything is insanely good, especially the soups (any of them) and the Pasta e Ragu. If for nothing else, this place is worth going to Florence.

Of course, there are a million more reasons why I love Florence: I met so many awesome people; ate a ton of  the best pizza and pasta; and experienced so many new things.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.”- Thomas Merton

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”- Henry David Thoreau

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

I thought these quotes were very fitting for me right now. I'm having kind of a hard time figuring out what exactly I'm doing with my life over here in Italy...its overwhelming sometimes. I'm terrified at failing to find a job and running out of money, thus having to come back to Texas. But whether I stay for the rest of my life, or come home in a week (hopefully thats not the case), I know that I'm doing something that so many people only dream of doing, but never take that leap..and there is something to be said for that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Love My Life

I have a feeling that my days in Florence are coming to an end...and I may be headed to Rome. Hopefully not, but its definitely a looming possibility. I love how I act like Rome is the worst place ever lol!  But Florence has really grown on me, and I don't feel like I'm ready to leave. To show my adoration for this place, I thought I would post some pictures of the things that made me fall in love--

These shoes, I seriously thought about buying. They're 4 of my favorite things mixed into one- peacock feathers, animal print, fringe, and they're sandals!
We had to do a group project for class and ours was over speed dating. These were the boys...

The night after our final test...yes we played beer pong.

These street artist guys are insane. They do the most amazing work, and then wash it away and do something new the next day.

This is the first protest I managed to get stuck in the middle of

I sat next to this guy while I was eating lunch and just thought he was fabulously Italian.

One of the many gypsy ladies shaking her plastic cup for money. This might be me pretty soon.

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but EVERYBODY has dogs in this city. They poop all over the sidewalks and 9 out of 10 times nobody picks it up. But they are adorable to look at!

And the dogs are almost always wearing a jacket or shirt of some sort.

Protest Number 2: Both were protesting the same thing--I think the Prime Minister was caught up in a prostitutuion scandal or something.

I loved how all of these bicycles were lined up and so colorful!

And there are a ton of motorcycles around here.

The produce stand by my apartment.

I just liked this little piece of graffiti...

Precious dog. It always sits in front of its owner's store and never runs away.

More fur coats....I will stay in Italy until I get one.

I think this is the spot where a monk was burned to death. Possibly?

Taking a lunch break from his carriage rides.

This place has pretty good gelato. Its definitely fun to walk by.

These sweet little guys are everywhere. They really make me realize that "oh yeah I'm in Italy"

I love this wall. I walked by it every single day and never noticed the artwork.

This is a piazza close to my apartment. We always say its where the homeless crowd hangs out during the day. They always have a flea market going on, too.

This stand has gorgeous flowers.

From our last day of class-- Samantha and Judit (ahh love her)

4 of my faves- Sam, Brie, Cait, and Sarah

Megan, Ali, and Madi

This is at the flower stand from before. Sweet baby just hangs out all day.

Miss these girls!

I know that was a lot of random pictures, but I've been saving them all for a long time and none of them really fit into a theme. So basically, everything and everyone you see has been my life for the past month :)