Spring Break

Nice is Nice

The South of France was nothing like I imagined. I guess you could say it is almost equivalent to what the Hamptons are for New Yorkers. It is very sophisticated and posh. The area itself is a little retro looking. When you walk around the promenade they have all the restaurants and hotels on one side and a beautiful beach on the other end. The place that my friends and I stayed was right on the water and was absolutely stunning.IMG_8267-2

The view we had from our balcony was breathtaking. In the evenings I sat outside and watched the sunset and in the morning I woke up from the beaming sun that rippled into our apartment.

The first day I was there my friends and I walked around Nice and went to Castle Hill to see the big waterfall. We walked around the area and took in the views of the entire city. Later that night we walked back to our apartment and saw the beautiful sunset along the beach. It was actually the most perfect day. The second day I was there I traveled to Monaco for the day.

There, I went Monte Carlo which is a beautiful casino located in the town. The area was very high end and consisted of so many upscale stores and restaurants with very sophisticated people. I gambled 20 Euros and unfortunately walked out with nothing. At least I can say the first I gambled was at the Monte Carlo.

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When in Roma 

As sad I was to leave Sunday, I was really excited to go to Rome for the second time and stay with one of my best friends from Miami. That trip basically consisted of eating, shopping and more eating. Because I was spending a full four days there and had already done a lot of the touristy things with my family in 2011, I felt no obligation to wake up early every day and run around the city. However, I did have a few restaurant recommendations in mind that I wanted to make sure I hit.

IMG_8463-2The first being Dar Poeta, an amazing pizzeria that I was lucky enough to go to twice during the week. They are known for their nutella ricotta calzone. Sounds kind of weird eh? It was possibly the most scrumptious thing I have ever tasted. It is located in a cute area called Trastevere where there are a lot of shops and restaurants.

I was also lucky enough to go to Frigidarium, a very good gelato place that everyone Instagrams when they visit Rome. IMG_8471My first day my friend took me to Campo de Fiori to shop around and see the outdoor markets. I bought a few things for my older sister not only because she has been harassing me to but also because she studied abroad in Rome when she was my age. Later, we went to Piazza Navona, a famous square with a beautiful center. Our third stop was an area called Prati. It was super trendy and reminded me a lot of the Upper West side in New York City. For dinner my friend surprised me by taking me to a kosher restaurant in the Jewish quarter, Ba Ghetto. I was possibly the happiest person in the world.

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My second day I went to the Spanish Steps. I remembered a lot of this area because I still have a lot of family pictures that I keep in a Facebook album. For lunch we went to Restaurant 34 and I tried the famous pumpkin gnocchi that everyone raves about. In my opinion… a tad bit overrated. After walking around the streets and listening to the musicians, I went into a few cute stores where I made some purchases. It’s a good thing I’m not abroad in Italy; otherwise I would go completely broke. For dinner, my friend and I went to Da Remo, another pizza place that was probably the best pizza I will ever have in my entire life.

Day three we went to Largo Di Torre Argentina which is a cat sanctuary that has all the roman ruins. I was so excited to see this because I have a sick obsession with cats. I got my sister a cute souvenir knowing that she would absolutely want something from there.

Later we walked by the famous Victor Emmanuel building, and after went shopping in Monti. That area was fun to walk around and had a bunch of vintage shops on every corner—however definitely not a must if you are only visiting Rome for a day or two.   We ended our day at Castel St. Angelo to watch the sunset. To celebrate my roommate’s birthday in Barcelona who happened to be in Rome for the night, we went to infamous Tony’s. It is an American Italian restaurant that all study abroad kids go to just so they can get some chicken parme and unlimited wine. I can see why people hype about it because they give great deals for a lot of food, but again, if you are looking for an authentic Italian meal it probably isn’t the best place to hit.

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My last day I walked around the colosseum and had a relaxing day just enjoying the city. I am so glad I was able to go back to Rome this trip because it was harder to appreciate it when I was younger. It is such an incredible city and I could absolutely see myself studying there if I was not in Barcelona.

Amalfi Coast

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Our last stop for our Spring Break journey was Sorrento. I have never been to the Amalfi Coast before but it was absolutely stunning. I would do anything to go back there! We did an organized trip and stayed in Sorrento for three nights but took day trips to other islands. Our first trip was to Positano and we lucked out with the weather because all of my friends and I managed to get a bit of sunburn after lying outside all day long.

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Our second day we went to Capri, which was a totally different feel than Positano but still, had a nice vibe. We were lucky enough to take a boat ride around the coast and make it in the Blue Grotto before the bad weather hit. Even though the rest of the day we had to stay inside, I was so happy that the weather held up for a few hours to make it in the water.

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We left from Naples the next day to head back to Barcelona. I was sad how fast this trip flew by but I promised myself I would make a trip back there again!

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Ciao Bella

Last week I took the first trip alone since I have been abroad.  I visited a few of my closest friends who are also studying abroad in Florence, Italy.  It was such an amazing trip and just reflecting back upon the time I spent in Italy, brings a smile to my face.

When I arrived Wednesday evening I was able to see the nightlife because it was one of my friend’s 21st birthday.  On Thursday we went to the Duomo, the famous church.  It is a close walk to their apartment and the architecture is absolutely stunning.  We took some pictures on the outside and I must have passed the Church at least 10 times throughout the weekend because of its central and visible location.  For the rest of the day I shopped my way through the leather market.  Because their apartment is directly upstairs from this market that is filled with soft and beautiful leather, it would be a dangerous thing for me to live there since I am a bit of a shopaholic.  After making a few too many purchases (sorry mom) we finished our day at the Mercato Centrale and I was able to satiate my hunger with a delicious homemade pizza.

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On Friday we woke up early to head over to the other side of the city.  We walked across the Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge in Florence.  Doing this, we were able to take our time, take pictures and see all the beautiful jewelry that was sold on stores all along the bridge.  After, I was able to go to the Gucci Museum, which was really exciting for me since I have a strong passion for high-end designer brands.  The museum was interesting, however, I do not know if it was a “must do”  if I return to Florence, but because it was starting to rain, it was nice to have some time indoors.  For lunch we went to a place that many friends recommended and I had to try something called “Gusta Pizza”.  I enjoyed another margarita and the waitress even treated me to a heart shaped pie.  Even though I love American food that was probably the best pizza I will ever have in my lifetime.

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As we made our way back to their apartment, we stopped at Piazza della Repubblica, a large square in the center of Florence surrounded by cafes and nice restaurants. It even had an adorable carousel in the center.  My friends explained to me that on Sundays the square is always full of children and families who enjoy listening to street artists and play with men who blow bubbles all over the square.

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Saturday, we woke up early to catch a bus that drove us to Venice, Italy for Carnival.  The first time I had visited Venice, it was during Carnival as well and I still believe that Venice is absolutely stunning and I would always be willing to return.  Besides the cold, it was a perfect day that ended with a romantic gondola ride that my friends and I took all around the canals.

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On the last day we woke up early to climb Michael Angelo which, to my surprise, turned into a beautiful day.  I must admit, the 50 steps or so were well worth the effort.  The city view was breathtaking.  I was able to appreciate things that I never was able to when I was younger.  Even the architecture on the buildings was remarkable.  Italy offers art in so many ways,  that cannot be seen elsewhere.  We treated ourselves to some mouthwatering gelato.  It was the perfect end to a perfect weekend.

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Before coming abroad I was nervous about traveling alone and studying in a different city from my best friends.  This trip made me appreciate our friendships much more and the benefits of traveling and visiting friends in different cities.  This trip reassured me that I made the right decision and that no matter where my travels take me, there is no better place for me to be studying than Barcelona.