Pick a Favorite?

Every Monday, the classroom is filled with chatter about what everyone did the previous weekend.

“How did you like [insert city name here]?” “What did you do there?” “Oh, I loved/didn’t like that city” “What’s your favorite place you’ve been so far?”

Of course I participate in these pre-class discussions. How could I not? The problem, my answers tend to all be the same: I honestly loved all the places I traveled to. And pick my favorite city? How could I possibly do that? Every city was beautiful to me, each in their own ways.

Berlin, Germany

The first trip I went on. It wasn’t originally on my list of places to go when I was abroad, but I’m so glad we went. There’s so much history in Berlin, and it was cool being able to learn about a lot of it. For example, there’s a square in Berlin where there are two identical churches that face each other. The story behind it was that the two church communities (French and German) didn’t want to worship together, so they built two of the exact same churches in the same square.

The food in Germany was absolutely to die for. The pretzels, apple strudel, schnitzel, and currywurst…oh my goodness, we ate so much on that trip. We all tried new foods in Berlin. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, but now I want to go back and eat more!

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona was on the top of my to-travel-to list. I’ve been dreaming of traveling to Spain since forever, and it was the first plane ticket that I bought.

One of the reasons why I was so excited to go to Barcelona was that I was able to see two of my friends from Hope who were also studying abroad in Europe. We planned to meet up there, and it was such a wonderful weekend.

We woke up early and went for a little run on the beach, followed by a delicious brunch (where my sandwich had a guacamole syringe in it)! Then we wandered around the city for hours, admiring the Gaudi architecture. La Sagrada Familia was even bigger and more impressive in person. After snapping many pictures, we found a small shop where we spent some time eating gelato and churros and enjoying the warm air.

The best part was by far getting to see Grant and Anna. It was wonderful getting to see familiar faces, and spend time with each other exploring a beautiful city.

Florence and Rome, Italy

Spring break in Italy? Yes, please! Oh, Italy was so sunny and warm–a nice contrast from the chilly February air in London.

In every city we traveled to (in and out of Italy) we always found something to climb that offered a view of the city. After filling ourselves up with pizza, we hiked up to the top of the Duomo in Florence.

463 steps to the top…so totally worth it. The view from the top was breathtaking. You could see the entirety of Florence. With the combination of the view and the warm afternoon sunshine, my friends and I spent close to an hour at the top of the Duomo.

Rome was also wonderful. It had history that I’d loved learning about since middle school, and sights that never seemed to end. But the best part of Rome was the pasta dish Gircia. A.k.a my new favorite pasta. It was pasta, pancetta, and percorino cheese. If only I’d taken a picture. Oh I could have eaten that pasta forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belfast, Northern Ireland

We had a very specific reason for traveling to Belfast: Game of Thrones tour. When we found out that many of the filming locations were in Northern Ireland, how could we pass up the chance to see them?

We went to the place where they filmed Winterfell, got to meet the dogs that played direwolf pups, and ate lunch at the hotel where the cast stayed while they were filming. It was a day filled with fangirling, costumes worn by extras, archery, and lots and lots of smiling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malaga, Spain

Not going to lie, although I said I couldn’t pick a favorite, I loved Spain enough that I went back. This time to the south coast: Costa del Sol. Boy, did that name deliver. It was 70 degrees the entire weekend; warm enough to wear shorts (much to the locals dismay). We hiked up to the top of the fortress, went and experienced a flamenco show, and even took a day trip to Seville.

The Alcazar in Seville was stunning. The vibrant colors and smells that perfumed the air made the experience even better. I wanted to turn that scent into a candle so I could have it with me always.

On our last day, we spent the afternoon on the beach. I hadn’t been to the beach in so, so long. One of my favorite parts of going to the beach when I was younger was looking for shells. That’s exactly what I did.

So yeah, I can’t pick a favorite place. Each of these cities were beautiful in their own way. Honestly, they couldn’t compare to each other. It would be a shame to choose any of these over another.  I wish I could’ve spent weeks and months in these places, exploring every little nook and cranny and experiencing everything they have to offer. Maybe one day I’ll return…or I may be adventuring in a new city. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

On my last trip of the semester I fulfilled a life-long dream of visiting Ireland. I stayed with friends in a hotel in Dublin, but we also booked a day tour to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher.

Dublin is a smaller city but there are so many things to see. You can visit the Trinity College Library or take a free tour of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (and see where politician and author Jonathan Swift is buried). There are plenty of pubs for lunch and dinner with specialities such as Guinness beef stew or a classic burger and fries.

Since we only had one day in the city, we had to miss some attractions with longer waiting times. I guess I’ll just have to make it back someday (what a shame…)

Around Trinity College there are many pubs to visit, as well as souvenir shops and hidden gems.
Look for the signs near the gift shop to meet a tour guide and learn about Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

On the second day our bus tour across Ireland left at 7:00 a.m. The tour was only 40 euro (booked through Finn McCool’s) and took us to Galway, the Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher with smaller stops along the way for food and coffee. Galway is a beautiful town. The Claddagh ring, symbolizing love, loyalty and friendship, is believed to have originated here. The Burren is a region famous for limestone formations. The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most famous sights associated with Ireland and are featured in films such as The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. 

Fall in love with a Galway girl, as the song says, or just fall in love with the city.
Sitting (and freezing) on a beach in the Burren.

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher is one way to get over your fear of heights…

If you even slightly enjoy great food, kind people, and a breathtaking countryside, plan to visit Ireland!

Dublin, We love you!

Hey everyone! These past two weeks have been quite crazy, filled with finals and traveling. After getting the finals out the way I prepared for my first trip. I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t like anywhere I’ve ever been before. As I checked Ryanair for some cheap flights Dublin caught my eye! Shortly after the ticket was booked. So here are some highlights from my weekend in Dublin, Ireland.

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In front of the Dublin Castle 🙂

Rush, Ireland

Long story short, my friends and I booked an Airbnb out in Rush, Ireland. Rush is a little village about a half an hour drive outside of Dublin. Whenever we asked for directions to get to our house in Rush everyone would look at us with a confused face and say “Rush? Really?” It was actually pretty funny. It was the most affordable and I was looking forward to see a real Irish village away from all the tourism of Dublin. After getting lost on the bus twice and a 40 minute bus ride we finally arrived in Rush. Our host was so friendly and helpful and the village was quite cute! The night we arrived was one of my friends birthdays so we went out to an Irish pub in the village. We had a hearty meal of roast, potatoes and veggies and had an overall great time. Everyone was so welcoming and we got an authentic experience. Overall I’m glad we stayed in Rush, it’s always nice to truly be with locals and see a part of the city tourist do not usually see!

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Low quality picture with our new friend smiling in the back.

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The Friendly Irish

Wow, the Irish have to be the friendliest people I’ve encountered in my travels! From the custom officer at the airport to the random man on the street everyone was so friendly. Our taxi driver took it upon himself to give us a whole history lesson and make endless jokes at 6am. We stopped for a moment and a man came up and asked us sincerely if we were lost and needed help. I have plenty more examples and, now I know why Ireland is in the top 10 of friendliest countries.

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Downtown Dublin

Downtown Dublin is amazing; it’s like a little London. There’s so many people out, so many cool restaurants, museums, parks, you name it. We got to visit Trinity College; where Oscar Wild attended and home of the Book of Kells. We saw the Guinness factory, St Peters greens and the castle of Dublin. A very interesting place was the Kilmainham Gaol, where many Irish revolutionaries were executed by the British. The remains of St Valentine also reside in downtown Dublin. You can spend all day wandering around and finding hidden gems.

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The book of Kells
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St. Stephan’s Green; a beautiful park in the middle of the city.
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Trinity College

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Cliffs of Mohr

On Valentine’s Day my friends and I decided to take a day trip to the Irish country side. It was great to be able to learn so much of the history of Ireland as well as see so much of the country which is truly beautiful. We rode up the side of a mountain (terrifying), saw plenty of sheep and visited various sites. The main attraction were the cliffs of Mohr which are one of the natural wonders of the world. We were blessed to have a beautiful sunny day to climb the side of the cliffs. Fun fact: 15 people die a year at this site, so I was extra cautious. After the muddy journey we made it to the top and I was very proud! It was truly a beautiful site and a great way to end the trip.

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I made it!
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Our muddy journey.

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Sleeping in the Airport

Okay, this wasn’t a highlight but it was memorable. Our flight was so early there were no taxis at that time so we ended up sleeping in the airport. It was an experience to say the least. I arrived back to Berlin right in time for classes, of course exhausted, but it was worth it. 🙂

That’s a little bit about my trip to Ireland! Dublin is truly great. I would encourage you to look up the country’s history and of course visit if you ever get the chance! Look out for my next post about my time in Venice. 🙂

Tschüs!