During my last week abroad in Europe, I decided to go out with a bang. As soon as my last class ended, I hopped on a plane to Paris. As I was staying in England this summer, I had thought about how close I was to France (much closer than St. Louis, Missouri). Instead of continuously thinking about it, I decided to just go for it. I spent two nights with my family who lives there, but only had one full day to explore. It was short, but definitely sweet. Walking the most famous city in the world in one day was one of the most tiring, yet thrilling experiences that I will never forget.
I started out my day by visiting the Eiffel Tower. First things first, right?! This was a sight that I was NOT going to leave Paris without seeing. It was quite surreal to see the real thing. I had seen this monument probably hundreds of times in movies, pictures, shows, etc. To be in front of the real thing was breathtaking. Because I was very limited on time, I didn’t go inside or to the top of many places. I was grateful just to be in the presence of these famous sights. In addition to the Eiffel Tower, I stopped at other key sights, such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre (where the Mona Lisa is), Notre Dame, Love Lock Bridge, and Shakespeare and Company bookstore. Just as I imagined, the city was beautiful. The parks, churches, theatres, stores, food… Speaking of food, I ate what I believe to be the most delicious crepe in the world. It was topped with coffee ice cream (with actually coffee beans!), coffee syrup, and whipped cream. Since I don’t speak French, I don’t remember the exact name of this outstanding dessert that I made into my entire meal.
With only a day to explore, I basically just got a preview of the “city of love.” I’m not complaining though. Out of this one day came many fun memories and stories. One thing that I did want to do in Paris was go to Disneyland. Obviously, this was not feasible. I guess I’ll just have to come back!
Me on top of Barcelona
Traveling from country to country in Europe is like traveling from state to state in the U.S. Since London is fairly close, I flew to Barcelona for a long weekend. I have family that lives in Barcelona, and I wanted to take advantage of that wonderful opportunity while I am abroad. I stayed with my aunt, uncle, and cousin, and had an absolutely fabulous time. The last time they had been to the U.S. was seven years ago, so it was nice to catch up with them. It was so helpful to have locals show me around the beautiful city and give me background info on what I was looking at.
The first day (Thursday) I explored a fun street called La Rambla. This eventually led me to the water, where I walked along the dock. I also visited a lovely park called Parc de la Ciutadella. As I wandered, I saw many neat statues, churches, and buildings that have very typical Spanish architecture. The Arc de Triomf was quite a sight. It’s actually flat in that area, making it a popular place for biking, skateboarding, etc. The next day (Friday) I visited the Estadi Olimpic (stadium used for the Olympics). Then I went to Parc Guell. There were beautiful, colorful mosaic tiles everywhere designed by the artist Gaudi. I also saw a famous, massive church called Sagrada Familia and went to another park full of beautiful gardens. There was a maze of trees there that was a lot of fun to navigate. Finally, Friday ended with a walk around the Born neighborhood, which was very classy. Saturday morning we went for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea. The water was very clean and refreshing. This was my first (and possibly the only) swim all summer. The afternoon was spent visiting Castell de Montjuic. This was a beautiful castle to wander around in. Next was my favorite part of the trip. We went to bunkers that were at the very top of a hill (it was worth the daunting climb). We were literally on top of the city. The view was spectacular and breathtaking. To end the day, we went to Fundacio Joan Miro, where fountains lit up and danced to music that was playing. I made my way all around the city and got to see most of the key sights. I definitely made the most of my short time spent there.
The food is another story in itself. I was willing to try things authentic to Spanish culture, and I’m so glad I did. Everything I had was amazing. Here are some of the highlights. Dinner the first night was at a nice restaurant. One of the entrees was calamari, and it tasted so fresh. For dessert, I tried a Spanish dish called crema catalana. It was custard with a caramelized crust on top. For dessert the next day I had fartons dipped in orxata. Fartons are light pastries topped with powdered sugar. Orxata is cinnamon milk. For dinner the second night, my aunt made a variety of Spanish omelets (they look different than ones I’ve had in the U.S.). One had fresh veggies, another with mushrooms and goat cheese, and also one with potatoes. My favorite part of dinner the third night was the gazpacho soup. It’s a cold soup commonly eaten in the summer there. It was very smooth with tomato and garlic flavors topped with croutons. All I can say is “yum”!
Having this experience in Barcelona has just continued this dream life that I have been living since I’ve been abroad. Ahh…