Posts Tagged With: Travel Itinerary

So this is goodbye?

Well, I am officially back in New Jersey so I guess this is goodbye. I could talk about what an amazing and life changing experience this was and how I grew as a person and sound as cliche as a Study Abroad pamphlet. So rather than be a redundant bore, I’m going to talk about how delicious the food is in Europe.

I actually tried snails! They were surprisingly minty and gross.

I actually tried snails! They were surprisingly minty and gross.

Spanish Tortilla with salmorejo (creamy tomato soup)

Spanish Tortilla with salmorejo (creamy tomato soup)

First, I’d like to thank my incredible host mother because home is where I had the best meals. She even taught me how to cook a few of my favorites, like Tortilla Espa├▒ola.

Churros and Chocolate: possibly the best thing to ever exist.

Churros and Chocolate: possibly the best thing to ever exist.

Those who study abroad and have the option of a host family should definitely do it, without my homestay, I would not have been exposed to the delicious cuisine of Spain without breaking the bank.

Patatas Bravas :)

Patatas Bravas ­čÖé

Pancakes from a very american brunch place in Spain

Pancakes from a very american brunch place in Spain

In Spain, the majority of the food was deliciously fried or very meat heavy. Ham and cheese croquettes was one of my favorite meals. The seafood in Spain is also beyond amazing (before going there I did not eat fish…that changed quickly upon arrival!), cod fish, shrimp, and other shell fish are popular.

Ham and cheese croquettes.

Ham and cheese croquettes.

Don’t be surprised either if you find all your meals lacking in vegetables. Coming from a home where I ate raw veggies on the daily, it was hardest to get used to having all of my veggies cooked in oil or fried. Bread is another staple at every meal. My host mother would buy bread from the bakery basically every other day and we would eat it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Pirinono (a cinnamon-bun like dessert from Granada)

Pirinono (a cinnamon-bun like dessert from Granada)

Spanish coffee is better than Starbucks. But then again, any coffee is better than Starbucks.

Spanish coffee is better than Starbucks. But then again, any coffee is better than Starbucks.

Another main difference between Spanish and American cuisine is the hour at which food is eaten. In Spain, I would eat breakfast, then snack, then lunch at around 3pm, then another snack, and dinner was early at anywhere between 9 and 10pm.

I found the best cake place in Sevilla (its near Plaza Nueva!)

I found the best cake place in Sevilla (its near Plaza Nueva!)

Cookies from Madrid

Cookies from Madrid

Besides just eating in Spain, I tried foods from eleven countries total: France, Holland, England, Morocco, Portugal, Czech Republic, Scotland, Belgium, Germany, and Hungary.

Sausage and potatoes in Budapest.

  Sausage and potatoes in Budapest.

Dutch cheese

Dutch cheese

Currywurst in Germany

Currywurst in Germany

Beef in Hungary!

Beef in Hungary!

Trying local cuisine was one of my favorite aspects of traveling but that is just because I’m an incredible foodie.┬áIMG_4766

Fancy grilled cheese in Paris

Fancy grilled cheese in Paris

French Croissant

French Croissant

Anyways, I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone (AKA my grandma) for reading about and keeping up with my semester in Spain.

Belgian Waffle

Belgian Waffle

Adios! 

Coffee

Coffee

Fancy Iced Coffee

Fancy Iced Coffee

More Coffee

More Coffee

French Coffee

French Coffee

Coffee from an eastern european country (I forget which one)

Coffee from an eastern european country (I forget which one)

Spanish Coffee....Again

Spanish Coffee….Again

I'm not the only one who drinks coffee!

I’m not the only one who drinks coffee!

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Be(a)rlin, Budapest, Prague, London

I was so busy traveling these past two weeks that I couldn’t update this page, so rather than go into detail about each individual place, here are lots of pictures with the highlights!

BERLIN

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Vicky and I arrived late at night and after many struggles with the public transportation system we finally arrived to our airbnb. The next morning we went to the East Side Galleries which is the Berlin Wall, this was actually my favorite part of Berlin since it is so beautiful and historical at the same time.

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After a lunch of currywurst, we headed over to Checkpoint Charlie, the Topography of Terror museum (about the Nazis and World War II), the Holocaust Memorial, and the Brandenburg Gate.

The next day, we went to the top of the Television Tower which was very crowded but the view was worth it. Then we spent the rest of the day walking around the Friedrichshain are of Berlin which is very cute and “trendy”.

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The memorial for the Jews murdered in the Holocaust

It was really interesting to see the East and West sides of Berlin now, knowing that they were so different only thirty years ago.

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Sight of the Nazi book burning

Also, Berlin has excellent chai lattes, its this brand called David Rio which is actually from California but they have it in every single cafe throughout this city!

BUDAPEST

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Fisherman’s Bastion

This was one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited on my travels. I thought Budapest was extremely beautiful, interesting, and I actually ended up learning a lot about World War II and Hungarian history. It was supposed to rain our entire stay, so right when we arrived we hit all of the main outdoor sights while we still had sun. We saw Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and the Hungarian Parliament building during the daytime. While the sun was setting we got lost in Buda Castle (we couldnt find the castle for hours until we realized the whole time we were actually inside it!). Pretty much, we spent the afternoon and evening walking around Castle Hill and looking at the amazing view of the city. Then at night, we walked back towards the Parliament building to see it all lit up.

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The next day we woke up to sunny skies again and walked across one of the Budapest’s bridges to go to their famous thermal bathes called Gellert. The process of buying our tickets and finding the baths was kind of overwhelming but once we were in the different pools it was quite relaxing. Afterwards, toured a church in a cave and walked up to Margaret Island. Since Gellert didnt have any openings for massages that day, we attempted to find another thermal bath place that did but that ended unsuccessfully. Later that night, we went on a cruise down the Danube river and got to see both Buda and Pest (yes, the city is divided into two halves- Buda and Pest).

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Hungarian Parliament Building

On Friday we woke up to an overcast sky but with no signs of rain, so we explored more of the Pest side and ended up walking to Heroes Square where there was a food festival going on as well.

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Heroes’ Square

We also visited two museums, Hospital in the Rock, and House of Terror. Both were extremely informative and my two favorite museums of the entire trip. Hospital in the Rock is a ex-hospital in a cave used during World War II and it was later a nuclear bunker during the Cold War. House of Terror is a museum located inside the house that was the Nazi headquarters and later the Soviet headquarters in Hungary.

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View from one of the many bridges.

On Saturday morning, we woke up and got brunch at the New York Cafe which is a super classy and fancy restaurant in a hotel near our airbnb. Then we got on a fifteen row propellor airplane and took off towards Prague.

PRAGUE

The tiniest plane I've ever been on!

The tiniest plane I’ve ever been on!

If cities were amusement parks, Prague would be Disneyland. The streets and buildings were absolutely adorable and everywhere we walked there were street musicians and vendors.

Old Town Square

Old Town Square

We had four days in Prague, so we were able to relax a little bit more and take our time seeing the sights. We went to the top of the clock tower, saw Olde Town Square and walked over the river via Charles Bridge. We saw the Prague Castle and ate many Chimney Cakes, chocolate, and gelato. We visited the John Lennon Wall which I have absolutely no idea why it is in Prague, but either way it is very pretty.

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John Lennon Wall

John Lennon Wall

One of my favorite things to do in Prague was take a peddle boat out on the river. It was so peaceful and beautiful at the same time.

We also went to the Kafka museum and the Film Special Effects museum, both were very interesting.

LONDON

London is Vicky’s city, which made it so special and exciting to see. Our flight out of Prague was delayed by two hours so we ended up having to take the double decker night bus back to her college campus (I was staying in her dorm). It was quite an experience since the last time I rode on a double decker bus I was five years old.

Big Ben

Big Ben

The next morning we got a semi early start and headed out to Central London where we did many of the “touristy” things such as seeing Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and of course, taking the classes phone booth photo. We even stopped for a classy afternoon tea for two!

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

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We also walked around Shoreditch, a much more hip part of the city that is filled with cute book stores, art studios, and coffee shops.

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I loved getting a personal tour of London and despite the cold weather I really did fall in love with the city!

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The Land of Chocolate

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In a city known for chocolates, waffles, and french fries I managed to eat and see my way through Brussels in 24 hours with the company of my dear friend Vicky. This marked the start of our two week, five country Europe trip. Brussels was actually exactly what I expected it to be- a small quirky city with good food and friendly people. Even though it took us about an hour to figure out what language is spoken there (turns out its both French AND Dutch), communication and navigating the city was quite simple.

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Outside the Royal Palace!

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After a quick lunch and coffee we started our day walking into the city center and exploring the streets. We wandered past a few beautiful churches and parks, passing by┬áthe European Union building and foreign embassies. Then we strolled through the Sablon area which should really just be called “Chocolate Lane” since every other store was a chocolatier. I bought some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted in my life there.

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We spent the afternoon touring the comic museum (Brussels seems to be very interested in comics, since there are many graffiti comic-murals spread across the city as well). In the evening we stumbled upon the plaza containing the town hall as well as numerous other gold plated buildings and relaxed on the clean cobblestone for some time.

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For dinner, I tried pork meatballs in a speculous (yes, as in the cookie) and dark beer sauce which turned out to be really good! Before heading home for the night we stopped to take a peek at Mannekin Pis which is literally just a tiny statue of a boy peeing. Usually he’s dressed up in one of his hundreds of outfits but that day he was in the nude.

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Mannekin Pis

The next day we walked back into the town center and saw a couple palaces and government buildings, I liked the Royal Palace the best, it made me feel like a princess. We went to the Musical Instruments Museum which is well worth the two euro it costs to get inside.

There was also a celebration going on for VE day which for some reason entailed an excellent procession of fat geese as well as around thirty food trucks and a weird “vintage-y” merry go round.

I have come to the conclusion that Brussels is the oddest city with the best chocolate I have visited so far.

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One Week, Three Cities

Last week was Semana Santa, where every church┬áparades its Jesus statues around town while dressed in costumes┬áthat look just like the KKK, attracting many tourists as well as freeing students from school for the week. I’m sure it is much more than just this, however, as I am not religious whatsoever nor am I very curious, I really cannot say much more. However, I took this week-long break as an opportunity to get to know more of the less catholic side of Spain.

SEVILLA

To begin the week, I had some lovely visitors in Sevilla including my roommate from last semester. They were my first real visitors and I was very excited to show them the city. We had a lot of fun walking and sitting and eating (it seems like that was all we did).

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I showed them the more popular sights in Sevilla including La Catedral, La Giralda, Plaza de Espana and El Real Alcazar de Sevilla. I also took them to all of my favorite places like the top of Las Setas at sunset, my favorite cookie store on Calle Regina, the park by the river, and my favorite tapas bar in Alfalfa called Bodega.

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La Catedral during one of our many sitting breaks.

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Plaza de Espana.

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Las Setas at sunset. My favorite view of all time.

I really enjoyed being able to show them around Sevilla because it made me feel more like an actual resident and less of a “long term tourist”. I also was able to do a lot of things I had wanted to do like ride the little boats in Plaza de Espana (best five euro ever spent!) and eat churros for breakfast.

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We had about two full days in Sevilla which in my opinion was the perfect amount of time to do everything we wanted.

MADRID

Our next destination, Madrid, was a beautiful two hour train ride away. To be honest, I was rather underwhelmed by the city. It was very beautiful but it didn’t feel like Spain, at least not the same way that Sevilla does. My friends said that it reminded them of London, it had a much more “European” feel to it rather than “Spanish”. Also it didn’t help that practically everyone there spoke English too.

One of the cuter Madrid streets

One of the cuter Madrid streets.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Madrid, I really liked being able to explore the streets and the architecture was absolutely stunning. Once again, we spent most of our time walking and sitting and eating (I think that’s the best way to travel, personally).

Parque "El Retiro"

Parque “El Retiro”

I forget what this building is called but it was very pretty.

I forget what this building is called but it was very pretty.

We went inside one museum, “Reina Sofia” which was nice. But my favorite part of this city was walking through the park called “El Retiro”. It was beautiful and gave us a shady place to sit and avoid getting sunburnt.

BARCELONA

From Madrid, we took a three hour train ride to Barcelona, which is by far one of my favorite cities in Spain. In Barcelona, I felt a lot more like I was in Spain again, even though their primary language there is actually Catalan (everyone also knows English too) and many of the residents want to secede from Spain.

We visited Parque Guell, the Gaudi house, La Sagrada Familia, Plaza de Espana, Las Ramblas, and the beach. My favorite out of all of these was Plaza de Espana because it was absolutely stunning with a beautiful fountain and steps that once you climbed to the top, you could see practically all of the city.

Plaza de Espana

Plaza de Espana.

The view from the top

The view from the top.

Las Ramblas was mostly tourists and very crowded, though looking at the cute little pop up style shops was fun.

The food was also delicious, we got tapas twice and went to this wonderful sandwich place called Bo de B where I had the BEST sandwich of my life. I am not over exaggerating, I swear, it was delicious and only 4 euros.

In Park Guell.

In Park Guell.

The view from Park Guell.

The view from Park Guell.

Overall, I think I liked showing Sevilla the best, but only because I think of it as my city and it was really great that my friends could see what I’ve been doing the past few months. My second favorite city was Barcelona probably because of all the beautiful views it had to offer (I don’t know why but I love being up high, maybe because I was short as a child?). And Madrid is third on my list only because it didn’t seem to offer as much as the other two cities, though I did eat a DELICIOUS fried calamari sandwich while I was there.

It is really interesting to be able to see three major cities in Spain within such a short period of time, it really gave me an insight into the differences within the country. I also just loved being able to spend time with so many familiar faces (shout out to Vicky, Seannie, Shelby, and Steph for making this trip so much fun!).

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I Made It!

Well folks, it’s for real, I officially landed in Madrid! After about 40 minutes of trying to figure out how to access the airport wifi I can finally relax and wait for my connecting flight to Sevilla. Everything here is so trendy, even though it’s only an airport the ceilings are gorgeous and the atmosphere is much more comforting than even the VIP lounge at JFK- which I also got to experience earlier today (or yesterday? This time change is messing with me). Spain, I love you already.

It’s funny actually, the time now is 8am but in my head it feels like the middle of the night so I’m really confused whether I should be feeling hungry or sleepy. The good part about airports is that it’s so easy to grab a snack and take a quick nap. That’s pretty much the best of both worlds when it comes to traveling. Since the time change is so drastic I ended up sleeping for only two hours on my six hour journey so I’m afraid some of my logic is dampened by delirium at the moment. But that’s okay because in two more hours I will finally be in Sevilla and get to start my four month long adventure in Spain!

Now time to find my gate… More adventures to come!

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