Saturday, May 22, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Saturday, May 1, 2010
So we arrived on a Thursday night and decided to grab some traditional Portuguese food. We went to a small, local restaurant, recommended to us by the hostel. We shared a delicious feast of codfish, calamari, garlic shrimp, wine and sangria. We had a lovely meal and then decided to head to barrio alto, where streets are lined with bar after bar after bar. And the best part was that drinks were extra cheap compared to Madrid. Actually, everything there was much cheaper than Madrid, so that made going out even more enjoyable! And the coolest part is you can buy drinks and then drink them in the streets. So these narrow little streets are filled with people and all types of fun. We met some French people who brought us to this lookout, to where you could see downtown Lisbon from above and it was really neat. You could see the castle off in the distance over the lit up city, a beautiful sight. Portugal is a really relaxed city, just walking around the streets and listening to people speak Portuguese was comforting. I think their language is more beautiful than Spanish. It doesn't sound like someone is yelling at you haha, the words seem to flow better and end is ooshes and swooshes. It is just more relaxing for some reason. Also, just because you can understand doesn't mean you will understand a WORD of Portuguese. Reading it is one thing, you can grasp what you are reading, but trying to understand their speech is pretty much impossible. Also, I found out that most Portuguese do not appreciate when travellers try and speak to them in Spanish. They said it is better to speak to them in English than it is in Spanish. They are very proud people, who have been overshadowed by Spain for most of their lives, so I can understand why they don't want people to assume they understand Spanish. So I used the one word I learn in Portuguese alot...obrigada..which means thank you.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Day 1: Milan
- Saw the most expensive street of shops in the WORLD (including the original Prada).
- Saw the Duomo -------------------->
- Got the last tickets of the day to see Da Vinci's The Last Supper. It is huge, it actually takes up the entire wall of the church.
- Enjoyed gelato
- Went to a Club called Planet 50
DAY 2, 3,4: Venice
- Took a train the next morning from Milan to Venice
- Took a water taxi to the apartment the 12 of us rented. Saw 2 old women sitting on a dock painting, now that's the life.
- Went on a walking tour with my friends Danny and Laura, took all sorts of pictures. Bought myself a little Venetian mask. They were everywhere!
- Starting wishing I had studied abroad in Italy.
- Went on an island tour. Saw Murano-island where they do the glass blowing. Saw a man make a horse figurine in about 2.5 minutes flat. Burano (my favorite-->) - was a colorful little fisherman's village. Then Torcello, which was an erie little island I believe at one time all the inhabitants died of some kind of disease..and only an old church and monestary remain there.
- Made dinner ourselves at the apartment. Pasta, the freshest salad with tomatoes, cheese, peppers, and onion, bread, cheese, and wine. So delicious.
- Saw Doge's Palace, Rialto Bridge, Basilica of San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, and more.
- Who goes to Venice and doesn't take a gondola ride? Not me.
- Seriously contemplated what I was thinking by not choosing to study in Italia.
- Took a night train from Venice to Vienna. Didn't realize that our seat pulled out into a bed until we were getting off the train at 8 in the morning. Awesome. Saw the most beautiful scenery training it up through the Austrian Alps.
- Everything is in German...cool. We don't know a single word, nor can we figure out any signs, but we do think its funny to pretend we can pronouce the words and for the rest of the trip we made up our own words like the title of my post.
- Had our backpacks on all day while we explored the city. It was thankfully a beautiful day and we saw St. Stephen's Cathedral and lots of other important looking buildings that I took pictures of.
- Went to the Sigmond Freud Museum.
- Thought we could get on the student agency bus without a reservation...epic fail. Ended up having to stay the night and convinced a nice Austrian man who worked a fairly decent hotel to let 8 people stay in a 4 person hotel room for only 100 euro. Success.
DAY 6, 7, 8: Prague, Czech Republic
- We finally made it to Prague after a quick little train ride. The train ride was actually really fun because about 5 of us sat in the bar part of the train and drank some refreshing beers in preparation for our time in Prague.
- We got there around mid-day and easily found our hostel.
- Then we bought our bus tickets and got out the bus, making the HUGE mistake not to stamp or in fancy terms "validate" our tickets. So the next thing I know is I'm being asked for my ticket and I was like here ya go mister tough guy...I'm not doing anything wrong here it is, I'm not scamming the system I bought a ticket. Well you see that's not really how it works. You are suppose to get on the buses and put your tickets in these little yellow machines that stamp the time on your ticket. Well we didn't see a single person stamp anything so we didn't know we were suppose to (this could be because they were all locals who had monthly passes who didn't need stamps, but how were we to know). So the 8 of us get pulled off the train and are told we need to pay a fee of 700 crowns. This seems a bit ridiculous to me and I think it was around about 50 euros or something like that. So we end up arguing with these basically mall cops from the Czech Republic who are in the nicest words I can think of ...little skeezballs. Anyway long LONG story short we talked for them for about an hour while he claimed he called the police twice and ended up paying for 2 of the 8 tickets just so we could get the hell out of there. I'm sure they just pocketed the money, but I guess that was karma because we didn't buy a single ticket in Austria, we just kept getting on and off the trains. It's a lot different than Madrid or Chicago, because in those places to even get to the station you have to scan your ticket or you can't get it. Anyway, lesson learned and maybe this post will save someone 700 crowns and valuable time. haha.
- After that little incovience we headed to the Prague Castle and walked around checking out the delightful view of the city. Most of the house are white, with red roofs, very beautiful sight.
- Went out to some some bars as well as a 5 story club. Had a terrific night and met people from all over the world.
- Woke up the next morning at 9 am and went on our Prague city tour, which I'm really glad we did because our tourguide showed us all the cool buildings in Prague as well as the Jewish quartersand Charles Bridge.
- After the tour our group split up and me and several of my friends went to the Lennon Wall..as in John Lennon. It's this really cool wall shown here ---> I overheard some tour guide telling his group that after John Lennon died, some people painted a wall with pictures of John Lennon and song lyrics, but this was during the Communist reign and during the day the communists painted over all the artwork in white. Well then that very next night the Czech people would paint pictures of ole Johnny again, with the Communists painting it white in the day. This continued for awhile until the Communists realized they had more important things to worry about and now the wall changes constantly with more and more artwork. Pretty cool huh?
- After that we grabbed some dinner. Sausages to be exact because they do not have these in Espana. Solo jamon. Which I never want to see again in my life when I get back to the States.
- Then we went on a pub crawl which ended up being really fun. Absinthe is legal in Prague so I had a shot of that. It's pretty terrible in all honesty. We started at Bohemian Bagels and then headed to 4 other pubs. We met some Australians and lucky for my friends and I we didn't have to buy a single drink all night ;) I think we stayed out until around 4 am then got up the next morning and headed to the airport for our flight to Copenhagen.
Day 9,10: Copenhagen
- We exhaustively arrived in Copenhagen. Found our hostel that looked more like a prison cell than it did a hostel. haha "Sleep in Heaven" very ironic name for the hostel.
- We spent the afternoon/night walking around doing a walking tour of our own. Saw the Hans Christian Anderson statue as well as his tombstone in the cemetery located right next to our hostel.
- At night we sat on a park bench right on the water looking at the houses all lit up and with their lights reflecting off the water. It is something I will never forget. We just sat their for hours and talked until it was too cold and we decided to walk back.
- The next day we rented bikes and the city was ours. Copenhagen is bike friendly just like Amsterdam. There are bike paths everywhere and it was no problem to get around. Only got honked at once so pretty successful.
- Here was a nice surprise for us though. So Tivoli Gardens is like the thing to do in Copenhagen. Its basically like Bush Gardens I think, but better. And it opens in approximately one week. haha. Then they have a famous statue of the Little Mermaid. Well ..for the first time in the history of the world the Little Mermaid statue is out of the country...in China. cool. Oh and Copenhagen happens to be the 2nd most expensive city in Europe so that was the perfect place to end our spring break with the little money we all had left.hahaha! Other than those cold, hard facts, Copenhagen was sweet.
- We celebrated our last night by going to a fancy restaurant for dinner. And I really treated myself by ordering King Crab from the North...that is what it was called on the menu and it was honestly the best seafood I've ever had.
So my spring break was a blast. Good group of people, good sights, good times. Today I went to Segovia for a day trip with API and it was really cool. Its this old little town about an hour outside of Madrid. We went in the castle and climbed to the top of the tower. We went in the cathedral and walked around town. Good times. Tonight, some friends and I went across the street to the bar and watched the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona game. Barca won. booo. Wasn't much of a game. Tomorrow I plan on going to El Rastro (flea market) and Parque de Retiro. It's almost 2am so I'm off.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Oh and get this. I'm missing two days of school because Semana Santa actually starts Friday and umm am missing some midterms. I get to make them all up except for my midterm in my Spanish conversation class. Hello minus 17 percent of my final grade. Haha I know right, I can't believe I'm missing it either, but whatever I'll learn more on this trip than I will the whole year in that class.
Today was a good day. I got two letters from my dad and Sanders and a package from my Aunt Kathy with....GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!!!!!! And they are my favorite kind and I was so excited to get it and wasn't expecting it and it was great. So a big thank you for anyone who has sent a package or letter, I appreciate them more than you know. Thank you. I also had futbol practice today which was awesome because I finally got to wear shorts and a tshirt outside. It felt so good, I'm glad the weather is finally starting to straighten out. And my soccer coach let me borrow his hiking backpack so it's all packed up and ready to go.
Yesterday was also a nice day and some friends and I headed to the park. It was such a perfect day, we sprawled out on the grass and read, did homework, played poker, and futbol. I'm liking Madrid more and more with the nice weather. :)
Well I'm about to head downstairs for dinner and make sure I have everything I need packed. I will hopefully be able to write about my trip by April 5 or so.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
So our hotel was pretty close to the Vatican and we started off our walking tour and just walked around the area by us and to the Vatican, just kind of taking in the scenery and the people. It was really nice to be out at 7 in the morning because the air was so fresh and there weren't a ton of people out...very relaxing. Our walking tour with API started at 9:35 so we headed back to the hotel, just in time for another stab at breakfast haha! The our tour guide took us to Piazza del Popolo (Plaza of the People) and from here 3 streets branch off from the Piazza, which is known as The Trident and these streets are known for their expensive shopping. We passed Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada etc, etc. We passed other plazas on our walk as well as several churches. She took us to the Trevi Fountain which I LOVED and didn't realize how big it actually was. Interesting story: she took us to the fountain from a side street and told us to stop in this certain place where we were standing right next to the fountain but couldn't see it because of this structure.
It was built by the creator of the fountain because a barber lived right next to the fountain and every day he would come outside and criticize the artist work. To stop his complaining this Ace of Cups was built right in his line of vision. I thought that was pretty funny.
Our walking tour ended at Campo de Fiori, where they have a market each Saturday I believe. So I bought some trinkets while I was there, we grabbed a quick slice of pizza each and headed towards the Vatican so we could make it in before it closed for the day. We heard horror stories about the line for the Vatican Museum so we were worried that we might not get in, but we must have picked a perfect time because I think we were in line for only 10 minutes or less. The Vatican was honestly overflowing with art. There was so much there and we didn't even come close to seeing half of it I'm sure. We saw famous paintings by Raphael like The School of Athens
The best part, of course, was the Sistine Chapel and the painting The Last Judgement. We did not have time to go inside St. Peter's Basilica, but we did get to see the outside of it.
I would have really liked to do that as well, but the Vatican Museums are closed on Sunday, so we had to do the museums on Saturday, which left us with Sunday for the Colosseum. The Colosseum was great! Our tour guide gave us all sorts of cool information and I took lots of pictures. It was pretty cool getting to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It's hard to imagine what it looked like in Ancient Roman times, because all that is left now is the bare skeleton and part of it was damaged from earthquakes. But it used to be covered in tapestries and there was actually a canopy top and marble seats. Pretty incredible structure for that time.