Ate my way through Italy

Over the past ten days, I traveled throughout Italy for Easter Break, where I ate pizza, pasta, and gelato for every meal. My trip began in the Amalfi Coast, where my friends and I relaxed in the hot, Italian sun for five days. Our next destination was Florence, Italy, where we climbed to the top of the Duomo. We finished our spring break in Rome, Italy, where we got to explore old ruins, the colosseum, and of course, live our childhood dream of being Lizzie McGuire by making a wish at the Trevi Fountain.

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We arrived in Sorrento, Italy on the morning of April 7th and  had already fallen in love with it. it was a gorgeous, sunny day, so we decided to relax by the pool at our our beautiful hotel, Hotel La Vue d’Or, which seemed to be the our game plan almost every day we were in Sorrento. For dinner, we finally got to have our first, true Italian meal… pasta. I have to say that it definitely surpassed my expectations. We ate at a very local Italian restaurant, Il Ritrovo, and I had the most delicious gnocchi of my life, I am still dreaming about it. One of our days in Sorrento, we decided to take a boat tour over to the island of Capri. All I can say is WOW. I now know where I want my future wedding to be. We boarded the boat bright and early and headed over to Capri, where we were able to spend 4 hours exploring the breathtaking island. It is by far the prettiest, cutest, most quaint little island I have been to. After exploring the island by foot, we hopped back on the boat and cruised around the island, stopping into several grottos along the way. e were able to go inside one of the most famous grottos, the Blue Grotto. it costs 14 euro to enter, and if you tip your guide, he will let you swim in it! My friends and I were feeling pretty brave and decided to take a dip in the freezing cold, gatorade blue colored, blue grotto. It was literally breathtaking because of how cold it was, but I highly recommend doing it if you ever get the chance. After a long day of exploring and boating, we headed back to the hotel for another delicious pasta dinner.

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Next on our agenda was Florence, Italy. Unfortunately we only had two days here, but we definitely made the most of it. The second we got to Florence, suitcases and all, we headed over to a very popular pizza place recommended by many of our friends, called Gustapizza. Just our luck, it was closed. Luckily, they have a sister restaurant just down the street, so we headed over there for a delicious margherita pizza, followed by gelato. The next day, we walked around the fairytale like streets and came across the Duomo, which looks like a cartoon building. We waited in line for a little over an hour only to find out that the climb to the top of the Duomo was sold out. We were still able to climb 403 steps to the top of the bell tower, which overlooks all of Florence as well as the Duomo. After the treacherous climb to the top, we deserved another gelato, so we headed over to the famous bridge, Ponte Vecchio, where we enjoyed a tasty, refreshing gelato. For a pre-dinner snack, and our last day in Florence, we HAD to eat at another highly recommended place, All’Antico Vinaio, for the tastiest panini of my life. If you ever find yourself in Florence and are unsure of where to eat, you must go to this place… it is life changing. Afterwards, we headed over to Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset, which overlooks all of Florence. From there, we headed to dinner at Trattoria ZaZa for another delicious pasta dinner.

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Our last stop for our spring break adventure was Rome, Italy. I was amazed at how ancient everything, including many of the buildings, is. When we arrived, we headed over to the colosseum and took a tour of the inside, which was really cool to see something so old still standing, even though a lot of it has been updated. After that we headed over to the markets at Campo de’ Firori, where they have fresh fruit, pasta and pizza spices, jewelry, leather wallets and purses, and much more. It was a really cute area with many restaurants and gelaterias. For dinner we headed over to my favorite restaurant of the entire trip, Thats Amore. you seriously HAVE to eat here if you travel to Rome!!!! Its a couple blocks away from the Trevi Fountain, and they have the best pasta I have ever eaten, and will probably ever eat in my life. I ordered the fettuccine al ragú bolognese, but everything looked exquisite. To finish off our trip to Rome, we headed over to the Trevi Fountain to bring out our inner childhood dream of making a wish at the Trevi Fountain, just like Lizzie did in the Lizzie McGuire movie, so I guess we will see if my wish comes true! Overall it was an unforgettable spring break and I will 1,000% be returning to Italy in my future endeavors. Ciao for now!

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Irish I was still in Dublin

This past weekend my friends and I went to Dublin, Ireland for St. Patricks day. We have been looking forward to this trip since we booked it back in November, and it was definitely worth the wait. Our itinerary for the weekend included the Guinness Storehouse Tour, the St. Patricks day parade, and the Cliffs of Moher. It was a fun-filled weekend.

We arrived in Dublin Thursday afternoon and checked into Citywest Hotel. Our hotel was about a 30 minute metro ride to Temple Bar area, so we hopped on board and headed to the Guinness Storehouse for our tour. During the tour we learned all about how Guinness is made and got to explore the factory where it is produced. At the end of the tour each visitor receives a free beer to enjoy at the Gravity Bar on the top level of the Guinness Storehouse. After the tour, we headed over to the Parliament Hotel  for dinner, where we were able to enjoy, burgers, beer, live music, and Irish dancing! It was a really fun atmosphere with people from all over the world singing, dancing, and just having an all around good time. Afterwards, we walked around Temple Bar area and then headed home for a good nights sleep.

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Finally, the day we have all been waiting for, St. Patricks Day. We woke up bright and early to get ready for a long day of festivities and then headed over to our friends Airbnb which was overlooking the parade. After watching the parade for a bit, we went to Temple Bar area and enjoyed the festivities over there and walked around the decorated streets. After a long day of celebrating, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Papa Johns. We headed back to the hotel and got a good nights rest before waking up bright and early, once again, for the Cliffs of Moher.

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On Saturday, we had a Paddywagon Tour that takes you from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher, with several stops at scenic castles. To start out the day, our meeting time was at 8:00am and some of my roommates decided to sleep in a little past the alarm, so we ended up SPRINTING 1.75 miles to the meeting point in order to catch the bus. Luckily we made it just in time for our departure and my roommates were able to finish their slumber on the 3 hour bus ride to the cliffs. The bus ride from coast to coast is absolutely stunning. Ireland is incredibly green and there are sheep, cows, and goats just roaming around. We made our first pit stop at Dunguaire Castle where we were able to learn about the history of the castle and wander around the outside of this 16th century castle. After another hour of driving, we arrived to the Baby Cliffs of Moher, which were breathtaking, so I could not wait to finally arrive at the actual Cliffs of Moher. After a lunch break and some more driving, we finally arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately the weather was treacherous and we could not even see the edge of the cliffs, let alone the ocean. There were incredibly high wind speeds, fog, and rain, making for a pretty miserable ride home. We stayed at the cliffs for about an hour trying to find at least one place where we could maybe see a glimpse of these beautiful cliffs, but unfortunately all we saw were multiple people getting blown over into the mud. At least now I have a reason to go back!

 

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Although we were unable to see one of the seven wonders of the world, it was still an incredible weekend with friends celebrating St. Patricks Day in Ireland.

AmsterDAM I love this place

My roommates and I woke up bright and early on Friday morning to begin our adventure to Amsterdam! We arrived in Amsterdam Friday morning and then headed to the Meninger Hotel to drop off our luggage and then start exploring the city. Our first stop was the I Amsterdam sign in front of the Van Gogh museum, where tourists like to climb up the letters and take pictures, which is surprisingly hard to do in the rain. Afterwards, we were all starving so we went to a Pancake restaurant that was highly recommended by all of our friends, The Pancake Bakery. I got a tasty nutella and banana pancake which was so amazing. The Pancake Bakery is conveniently located down the street from the Anne Frank House, which was next on our itinerary. Unfortunately the line was about a 3 hour wait and online tickets were sold out weeks in advance, so we decided to try again the next day. After a quick change of plans, we decided to explore the picturesque streets of Amsterdam. All of the apartments and shops are crooked yet so beautiful and overlook the 165 canals of Amsterdam. We found an exquisite cheese museum where we were able to sample a plethora of different and unique cheeses. After a busy day of trekking through Amsterdam, we navigated our way back to the hotel and got ready for dinner, which was quite an experience. We decided to go to an all you can eat sushi restaurant, Miu. The rules for the all you can eat sushi were that each person had to pay $25 for five rounds of sushi and in each round, each person can order 5 items. Clearly our eyes are way bigger than our stomachs, and we thought it would be a piece of cake to eat all of that food. By the end of the second round we were still going strong, and the waitress came over to our table to tell us to order all the food we want for the rest of our rounds because the kitchen was closing soon, so we each ordered about 15 more items. Once the food arrived at our table, we realized how screwed we were, our waitress had just decided to mention to us that each plate of food you do not eat, you have to pay for. After a few more bites, we began to become exceedingly full, unbuttoning our pants to fit our growing stomachs. We realized that there was not way we were going to finish all of this food, so we had to hide it in our purses to save for later. We were full for about 24 hours after this meal, but we highly recommend trying it if you are ever in Amsterdam. We needed to walk off our dinner, so we headed over to the Red Light District, which was quite a unique experience.

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On Saturday we had tickets for a canal tour, which included an entrance ticket to the Heineken Experience. We learned so much about the history of Amsterdam on the canal tour and it was an incredible way to see the entire city while staying warm on a frigid winter day. After the tour, we went to a late lunch at Bakers and Roasters. Everything on the menu sounded incredible, it was so hard to choose just one item. I went with the salmon rice bowl, which was so tasty. The next stop of the day was the Heineken Experience. We were able to learn all about the history of Heineken and how it is made. The tour includes a lot of interactive activities to show how the beer is made, which I found to be an exciting way to learn. We were able to try the different stages of the beer making process and the end of the tour includes two free beers with a spectacular view of the city from their rooftop patio. After a long day of learning about the history of Amsterdam and beer, we headed over to the Anne Frank House for one last historical site. We had to wait in line for about an hour, but it was SO worth it. It was incredible to see the place where Anne Frank spent so much of her life in hiding and being able to see pictures, videos, diaries and so much more from the Holocaust.

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Amsterdam is an incredible and beautiful place and I hope to go back someday. The people are oh so friendly, the food is exquisite, and there is so much to do and see!

 

Paris is always a good idea…

…as Audrey Hepburn once said. My roommate and I traveled to the city of love for a pre-valentines day for a fun weekend get away. We arrived in Paris early Friday morning, so we had all day to explore the beautiful city. We dropped off our luggage at the hotel and then ventured out for the day. We followed a 3-day Paris itinerary that i had found on the Travellingbuzz blog which was super helpful in guiding us from place to place. On the first day we were able to see the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Ospray, and the Louvre.

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Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower. We decided to climb the 704 stairs to the second level of the tower and then take the elevator up to the top. Unfortunately, we were in Paris the one weekend that it decided to snow there, so the view from the top was foggy, gray, and obscure. We were only able to see a few feet out from the Eiffel Tower, but it was still a breathtaking view. Standing at the top definitely made my stomach drop, but it was so worth it. Since there were high wind speeds and snow when we were up there, we rushed back down to the second level, where we enjoyed the glass floor viewing area and the ice rink. I will definitely have to come back in the summer time to enjoy a picnic on the luscious green grass next to the tower.

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After spending some time at the Eiffel Tower, we made the trek over to Musée d’Orsay to warm up a bit. At this museum, we were able to see the incredible artwork by Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Frédéric Bazille, and many more. There was also a really pretty clock that you can look out of and it has a view of most of Paris, which was really cool. There is so much history in the museum, it was cool to see the actual artwork of paintings that I have learned about in school. Whether you are an art lover or not, I highly recommend visiting this museum!

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The next stop was at the Louvre Museum. The are around the Louvre is really pretty and a great place to take pictures. It was hilarious watching all the tourists stand on the cubes and try to touch the top of the Louvre. After laughing at everyone trying to do it, we obviously had to try it ourselves. Since we are students in the EU, we got into the museum for free. We had already seen so much artwork in one day, so we just decided to go straight to the Mona Lisa and then walk around that area. There is so much to see inside the Louvre, so I will definitely go on a tour of it the next time I am in Paris.Later that night we headed to the famous street called Champs-élysées for a delicious dinner at Pizza Vesuvio. Afterwards we walked around all the shops there and then headed back to the hotel.

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The next day we started out at the Luxembourg Palace and Gardens, which was so pretty and filled with active people running, playing tennis, and riding scooters, as well as young kids playing soccer. The atmosphere was so relaxing, I could have hung out there all day. After exploring the gardens, we headed down the street to a crepe restaurant, La Creperie des Canettes, where I tried my first ever savory crepe. I got an egg, spinach, and cheese crepe which was so savory and delicious. Then we walked over to the Notre Dame de Paris , which was magnificent. The line was so long and it was freezing out, so we just looked at it and then headed over to the metro to get to Montmartre. Montmartre is the cutest, most precious little town I have ever been to. The people, the shops, and the restaurants were quiet and little, giving it a very home-like feel. The views from the top were breathtaking, but once again the fog would not let us see more than a few feet in front of us. There was a little plaza where a number of people sit and draw portraits of people, which is what I was expecting most of Paris to be like. We were SO cold that we had to leave, so we headed back to Champs-élysées and went to an English movie theater (with French subtitles) and saw 50 Shades Darker so that we could defrost for a couple of hours. At midnight, one of our friends turned 21, so we all headed over to the Eiffel Tower to pop a bottle of champagne while watching the lights of the Eiffel Tower flicker in the midnight sky. It was definitely a night and a weekend to remember!

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Swiss Cheesin’

My weekend in Interlaken, Switzerland felt like a fairytale. Interlaken is the most picturesque and charming town I have ever been to. The crisp, cool air, crystal blue lakes, and snow covered mountains are what make this place so magical.

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The first day in Interlaken, my friends and I walked around town and found the most delicious chocolate shop, Funky Chocolate Club, which has the most decadent hot chocolate any of us had ever drank. After sipping on our hot cocoa and thawing out from the cold, we set off on our paragliding adventure. We were picked up at our Hostel by Outdoor Interlaken where we geared up for the adventure of a lifetime. Once we all piled into the van, we drove up the Beatenberg Mountain Range and then hiked about 10 minutes to our take off zone. The views from the top of the mountain were breathtaking. The scariest part of the entire paraglide was running off the mountain and making sure we had enough speed to carry us through the strong winds that we were facing that day. Once we got off the ground, the views were incredible, it truly felt like the real life Disneyland ride, Soaring over California, but instead, Soaring over Switzerland. It was by far the most amazing experience I have ever had. My guide pointed out Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, the Jungfrau mountains, and many other facts about Interlaken, he even pointed out his house! Right before landing we did some cool “tricks” giving me quite an adrenaline rush. I highly recommend paragliding in the Swiss Alps.

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After landing, my friends and I all headed back to our hostel for a traditional swiss fondue dinner. We were served two enormous pots of sizzling cheese fondue with unlimited plates of bread, potatoes, and pickles. Safe to say I had the worst stomach ache after this meal.

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The next day we woke up bright and early to walk over to Lake Brienz. It was the most scenic lake I have ever seen. The water was like a mirror, portraying the scenery all around the lake, such as the scenic mountains and quaint houses. It was an extraordinary place to sit and take in the fresh air with great company.

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On the final day of our Switzerland adventure, we went on a day trip to Zurich. About an hour and a half away from Interlaken lies the bustling city of Zurich. The highlight of the day trip was climbing to the top of the Grossmünster. From the top, we were able to see a panoramic view of the city, which is surrounded by mountains and lakes. After climbing to the top, we deserved a treat, so we headed over to Sprüngli Chocolate Shop, where we got some authentic swiss chocolate and macaroons, which we devoured in 0.2 seconds. Then it was time to head back to Interlaken for one last Funky Chocolate Shop hot chocolate and then head back to Spain! I will definitely be back, Switzerland.

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London: My Cup of Tea

For my first trip abroad, I decided to go London! Even though I had only been in Barcelona for two weeks, my roommates and I were craving a visit to an English speaking country, so London was the perfect fit. We arrived in London late Thursday night and our Airbnb was located right above Kennedy’s Fish ‘n Chips (a locals favorite!), so naturally that was our first stop. On Friday we spent the day being tourists and went on a double-decker bus tour around the city. Our first stop was Buckingham Palace. The detail of the palace gates and the architecture of the palace was jaw dropping. My first thought after seeing how enormous the palace is, was, “has the Royal Family even seen the entire palace yet?”. We were able to see the changing of the guards which was a pretty big ceremony.

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After spending some time at my future palace, we hopped on the bus to our next destination, Kensington. We walked around the cute, quaint streets and stopped for lunch. After our lunch break we headed over to the London Eye and Big Ben. These monuments are even more breathtaking in person than they are in pictures. Of course with my luck, the London Eye was closed for maintenance, so instead we took a boat tour down the river and saw the London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

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After a long day of exploring, we treated ourselves to a fancy dinner at Sushisamba, which has views that overlook all of London. On Saturday morning we headed over to Abbey Road to see the Beatles studio and famous cross walk. It was nothing like what we were expecting, but it was definitely humorous. We had assumed that the crosswalk was blocked off to traffic, but little to our knowledge, it is an exceedingly busy road. People would constantly hold up traffic to try and take a picture of themselves crossing the street and the drivers would get so annoyed and everyone honks at the tourists.

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After almost getting hit by angry cab drivers, we walked over to Picadilly Circus and Oxford Street, where there is great shopping and restaurants. Apparently we did not get the memo that there was going to be a Donald Trump protest that day and we were stuck in the dead center of it, unable to move. Once we escaped the protests, we went to a delicious Thai restaurant for a late lunch/ early dinner and then hit up a few pubs later that night. Sunday morning we got breakfast at a café near our apartment and then headed to the airport for our flight back to Barcelona. All in all, it was an unforgettable trip and I will definitely be going back to London.