Sorry, I’m still in my Italian frame of mind. I don’t even know where to begin with this blog post. I have been traveling for the past week and have been to three different cities! What a whirlwind!!
Last Friday, my friend Molly and I left for Amsterdam! I never expected that I’d be going to Amsterdam this semester, but she really wanted to go and I had heard from a lot of other people what a beautiful city it was! It was beautiful all right! Just a tad bit cold for my liking. We were there for about two and a half days and saw quite a bit, including the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, the Royal Palace, and the Tulip Market. Even though I’m not always a huge fan of museums, the Van Gogh was actually pretty cool. You could really see his development as an artist and we got to see most of his famous paintings (except Starry Night, which was a bummer). The Anne Frank house was awesome. It was such a tiny, average looking house from the outside, but it was so cool/ eerie when you stepped inside. When we went up to the actual annex where the family was in hiding for more than 2 years, I kind of felt like an intruder—like I shouldn’t have been there. The whole thing was just a little surreal!
The next day we went to the Royal Palace which was interesting and the tulip markets, which was really cool too. The market was basically just a row of tents with every type of tulip and flower imaginable!! It was so beautiful to walk through and just browse. There were also tons of cats. One just sat on our table while we had coffee at a bar, two kittens were just roaming around a Mexican restaurant, and one cat followed us around our hostel! They were all adorable! Speaking of our hostel, our hostel was not your typical hostel. It was a boat, and I’m not talking about a cruise ship here. Our room was about the size of a walk in closet and I could barely stand up in the bathrooms. It was definitely not spacious, but it was manageable. On the bright side, there was a great breakfast and it was still pretty cool to look out onto the water.
On Monday, we left to go to Rome! I have been so excited to go to Rome this whole semester! When I was little, my Grandmom used to have a little trinket from Rome that I always used to look at. In the back of my mind, it’s always been somewhere I’ve wanted to go. It was everything I expected and more!! On Monday night, we walked around and saw the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and some of the other ruins. We stopped in a small restaurant and had some amazing pasta and a great typically Italian waiter! On Tuesday, we woke up and went to the Vatican. We saw St. Peter’s Basilica and the museums. The Basilica was absolutely awe-inspiring. We went into one of the prayer rooms there, and for some reason, I started to cry. I’m not sure if that happens to a lot of people, but there is just something about being there that is so moving. Later, we went to the museums, which have a lot of typically Roman art, as well as Michael Angelo’s Sistine Chapel. His paintings are amazing and make one marvel at all the detail that had to go into it.
In the afternoon, we saw the inside of the Coliseum, which was awesome! We took lots of pictures and learned a little bit about the battles that were fought there. Next, we got some delicious gelato and sat back by the Trevi fountain just enjoying and taking in everything around us. Then later that night we caught an overnight train to Venice. It definitely wasn’t ideal, but it saved us money on a hostel so we went for it.
We arrived in Venice at 5:30 AM on Wednesday—quite an early start to the day. We couldn’t really check-in until 11, so we spent our morning hopping from café to café getting coffee and pastries. When we finally met up with the other girls (6 now in total) we checked into our very own apartment along one of the canals. The apartment was so cute on the inside, with its own kitchen, terrace, and washer machine!!! That afternoon, we did some shopping (my fav) and just roamed around the narrow “streets” of Venice. When I say streets, I just mean walkways. There are basically no cars and the primary way of getting around is by boat! It’s crazy, but so normal for them.
Here comes the most embarrassing/ most hilarious part of our entire trip! As we were wondering down a long, very narrow street, we came to the end only to find a dead end and a canal. My friend Emily thought it was funny that we had walked all that way to find water, so decided to take a picture to remember. I thought it would be a good idea to get a little closer and peek around the corner of the building next to us to snap a pretty picture of the canal. As my friend Molly hollered at me to be careful, I slipped and fell right into the canal! Yes, it was freezing in case you were wondering, and I didn’t know what to do except scream. My friend Cathy came to my rescue but I didn’t want her to fall in, so I quickly pushed myself out of the water, and immediately started cracking up. My clothes were soaked and I was shivering, but the situation was just too funny to do anything but laugh. Thank goodness there were not many people around, except two guys cleaning their boat. I can only imagine what they must have been thinking as they saw a girl falling into the canal out of the corner of their eye! I can’t wait to tell this story in person…it is just that much funnier!
After making our way back to our apartment and taking a nice hot shower, we went out for a nice Italian dinner and then came home to celebrate our friend’s birthday with wine and pastries! It was a perfectly relaxing way to end a slightly dramatic day of falling into canals haha! The next day we went on a taxi boat to different islands around Venice. We went to Murano, the island famous for all of its blown glass. We watched a demonstration on how it is made! It is so cool to see the process and the finished product! Later, we made our way to the island of Burano, which had lots of bright colored houses and, of course, more shopping (just what my wallet needed HA)! Later that night, we cooked ourselves a homemade Italian dinner with pasta, pizza, and bruchetta, and it was delicious! We went out afterwards to Plaza de San Marco, which was so cool to see all decorated for Christmas!!
The next morning, we were sad to have to leave! We had a long day of traveling, so it felt good to finally arrive back home in Bilbao! We had a great mini vacation within a vacation, as we like to think of it! Now, it is back to reality a bit, as we have finals this week and final papers due. However, it is nothing like it is back in the US, so I sympathize with my friends back home right now. I can’t even fathom the fact that I will be home in exactly 1 week. 1 week is nothing here. I know I will blink and be home before I know it! I am so excited to come home! I have been having a lot of dreams at night about home and waking up a little disoriented. At the same time, I know I will miss it here in Spain and I will miss my host parents and my friends. It is one of the most contradictory feelings I have ever felt, and it is hard to put into words.
Alright, I must go get to work now and get out of my vacation frame of mind! I cannot wait to see each and every one of you when I get home! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great week! See you VERY soon!