Abroad and Well

After traveling all around Europe for months and eating croquettes like it was my day job, I finally felt like a true Spanish local. I’d say I feel like a Catalonia local, but I’m still getting my Spanish conjugations right before I  can even think about learning Catalan. I ate my way through almost every city on my bucket-list and left a little room in my stomach to extend because I’m not ready to say adios. Born and raised on an Island they call Miami Beach, I couldn’t think of a better place to extend to than two islands right off the coast of Spain.

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First up was a quick 40 minute plane ride to Mallorca. After accidentally booking the wrong flight from my friends, I had a few hours to explore the island on my own. Turns out, there’s not so much to explore around our side of the island unless you want to check out the beach from a little further down. Once Emily finally arrived, we grabbed lunch at a cafe on the beach and ate extremely mediocre chicken fingers and fries. But hey, even the worst chicken fingers are never bad. The real winner winner chicken dinner was the bright blue water and crystal clear skies. No seaweed, no humidity, just different shades of beautiful blues.

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After doing some research, we were pumped to check out a beach called Playa del Ingles. After exploring this side of the island for a while, we cam across a secret cave that looked like a picture from a green screen. Different from our side of the island, the water here was far from clear. Instead, it had insane shades of greens, golds and blues. It looked as if Gaudi flew from Barcelona to Mallorca to paint these waters himself.  We were so captivated by its’ natural beauty that we decided to come back here the next day to say our goodbyes.

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Next, we set sail towards the coast of Morocco to a much bigger and farther away island called the Canary Islands. Even though it’s considered a part of Spain, it felt like we were in a completely new continent. The colors, the people and the atmosphere were all so vibrant, but what really blew me away was what the island had before all of that. By chance, we chose to stay at the southern tip of the island called Maspalomas Gran Canaria, and to this day it’s the best dumb luck I’ve had. From one direction, we saw a gorgeous beach, nothing like Mallorca, but beautiful all in its own.

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We looked to one side of the beach and saw a mountain, then looked behind us and BOOM… sand dunes? I was blown away and couldn’t think of any other beach in the world that had a set up like this. It was so crazy to walk from the water to what felt like a desert… One second we were on the beach, the next it was like the Sahara. As someone who grew up on an island, it’s pretty hard for me to visit a new beach that genuinely blows me away, but WOW. It was love at first sight and we sat on that beach everyday until it was finally time to go.

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It hadn’t hit me yet that the end of this trip was the end of my time living in Europe. I couldn’t believe how fast these few months went by and how much I got to see and experience. We packed up our stuff to head back to Barcelona to say a final goodbye to the most amazing city in the world.

We ended our world tour with my all time fav spot, Bo de B then took a final stroll through my ‘hood in the Gothic Quarter. As we headed to the airport the next morning, I couldn’t believe I had to go back home, where “Barthelona” is not appropriate pronunciation in the Cuban language. I met so many incredible people, visited countries completely different from one another, and was literally handed the world for a semester. I can’t thank my parents enough for letting me frolic all over Europe on their dime and giving me the most incredible experience I have yet to endure. Barthelona, te amo… I’ll be back for you.

 

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Hungary for Budapest

Here we go again with those Eastern European vibes. But honestly, after a great trip to Prague I was excited to see what Budapest had to offer. Let’s start off with a little history lesson for those of you who think people are messing with you when they ask if you’re staying in Buda or Pest. Technically, it’s one city now, but back in the day they developed completely on their own, only separated by the Danube river. Even though both cities together form Budapest, each side has a history pf it’s own.

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We heard that Pest is where all the fun goes down, so naturally we found a hostel in that area. One of my friends took a little Euro trip last summer and had only great things to say about a party hostel he stayed at, called Retox. We immediately booked the last private room and were ready to get weird. The hostel was awesome because it was run by people around our age from all over the world. There were people from Australia to Croatia, even from Israel, (Represent). Most of them were backpackers who stumbled upon Budapest and liked it so much they decided to stay. A few years later, and those tourists are now our guides.

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After settling in, we went to the top of the Basilica for a view of the city. Three euros, and about 300 stairs later, we had an incredible view and hopefully a little booty lift. On our way back, we passed by a local market and naturally my nose fell victim to the foreign smells. After settling our hunger with some Hungary delights, we wandered through the outskirts of Pest until making it back to the hostel.

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When we woke up the next day, we set out for a traditional Hungarian breakfast. To say the least, it was basically just eggs and sausage with a Hungarian bread on the side, called Kifli. But, I love breakfast food so definitely no complaints. Our friends Harry and Annie finally landed and we immediately set out to see what all the Buda buzz was about. We walked around the entire city of Buda in awe at all the beautiful architecture. Not as fairy-tale as Prague, but definitely magical.

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On our way to the Buda Castle, we saw a woman deep frying dough, layering mounds of Nutella on top. This caught everyone’s attention. When we got a closer look, we saw there was a sweet and savory option, the savory layered with sour cream and cheese. Emily and I couldn’t resist trying both because when in Buda? Apparently these giant elephant ears are called Langos, and they were definitely worth the thousands of calories.

After eating our entire daily calorie intake in one meal , we were ready to walk it off by hiking up the Citadella for a view that made the Basilica look like a lame preview. You could see Buda and Pest from every angle and made it feel like you’re on top of the world. In the great words of Miley, “Life’s a climb, but the views great.”

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All the walking up hill got us hungry for more. We headed back to Pest to show our friends the amazing market we walked through the day before. My mouth was watering and I knew exactly what to get. I refused to leave without, Goulash a traditional Hungarian stew with beef, potato, carrots and onion in a BREAD BOWL. I would say goulash is like a Panera bread bowl, but that would be putting my goulash to shame. I was so happy.

After eating our way through Hungary, we wanted to splish splash in the Buda baths. So we bought tickets for a party that night at Szechenyi bath. Most of Budapest is built on top of naturally heated springs so many places have turned these springs into relaxing spa pools during the day, and crazy heated pool parties by night. We were pumped to dive into the action. I’m not going to lie, it was basically just a public pool party with warm water, but still fun nonetheless.

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The next day, we had our final Hungarian feast, and packed up to head home. As popular demand from me myself and I, we went back into the market one last time. I ended the trip the way I started, with my last traditional goulash and something sweet for the ride. It’s crazy to think that this is one of the last trips I’d be taking abroad and I’m still not sure how these four months already flew by, but this trip was one for the books and a perfect way to end our semester.

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You can’t spell Spain without Pain

After being rolled out of Italy, I was excited to be back home, where my older sister Rachel was waiting for me. Three years ago, she lived in Barcelona and now she’s back to relive her abroad glory days. All she wanted was one last taste of Abroadcelona and I was so happy to give it to her. Even though I just ended Spring Break and the Italian food tour, the Spanish food tour and adventures had just begun.

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First up, I took her to my favorite neighborhood park, Parc Ciutadella. We took row boats out on the pond, walked around and had the perfect first day. We ventured to the Arc de Triomf next, and stayed in that area until we were ready to siesta. By popular demand, her late lunch request was the infamous, Bo de B. Music to my stomach. We each got a bocadillo and Patatas Bravas and inhaled our favorite food in minutes. I thought I was still full from Italy, but clearly only full from pasta. We walked it off heading down my favorite street in El Born and surprise surprise, got empanadas for dinner para llevar.

The next day, we got up early and headed to Park Guell. We’ve both been here before, but never together and it was one of Rachel’s top requests for the trip. We got to the ticket booth around 2:00 PM and all passes were sold out until about 7:00 PM… Great. Park Guell isn’t necessarily right around the corner from so we weren’t about to just leave. After almost an hour of debate, I finally convinced Rachel to jump the fence with me and sneak in (sorry again mom, blame the oldest sister). The most rebellious she’s ever been so her adrenaline was pumping. If you ask my sister, we were two American outlaws, but in reality we were just two Gaudi girls strolling around the gardens and enjoying the architecture.

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Up next on the menu, was a new restaurant my roommate introduced me to called “La Alcoba Azul.” My sister had never tried it so we were both excited for the new experience. This restaurant was DEEP in the Gothic Quarter and had it’s own twist on tapas. It focused on different flat breads, cut into shareable pieces and the patata bravas were essentially baked potatoes smothered in two different sauces. But I guess potato, patata?


I n true Monday fashion, we got ready for the biggest night in Barce… Loco Lunes. My sister had dreams about reliving Loco Lunes, and when she found out it was moved to Opium, she had a mini heart attack of happiness. When we woke up, it felt like a ton of bricks were dumped on our heads. It took all the strength we had left in us to get out of bed, get out of the apartment and walk around the corner for more Bo de B. The only cure post bocadilla was a day on the beach and CDLC for sangria and 5 euro massages. Safe to say, we drank our hangovers away. Next up on the food tour was our favorite tapas restaurant called, Sensi. No surprise it was just as good as she had remembered and to this day one of my favorite tapas restaurants in Barcelona.

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The next day, we grabbed lunch at my favorite spot in La Boqueria, called El Quim. This tapas place was legit. No reservations, no tables, first come first serve bar seating, and if you can’t find a seat, have fun standing and eating at the bar. The locals didn’t mind, my sister definitely did. That being said, we got two chairs and stuffed our faces with croquettes, muscles, and basically everything on the menu.

Now that our stomachs were full and our hearts were happy, we ended our journey with a final stroll through La Boqueria. I guess the candy at the market wasn’t enough because my sister insisted we stop at Happy Pills so she could bring home some goodies. I was sad to see my trip with Rach coming to an end, but we finally got to experience our home away from home together.

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After months of pre-gaming with baguette con queso in Barce, I couldn’t be more ready to go back to the country of carbs. Although Italy is known greatly for its history, it’s better known to me for its amazing food. The last time I went to Italy was with my aunt after I graduated high school. We only had time for Rome, Capri and Pompeii so I was excited to see what else the paradise of pizza and pasta had to offer.

First stop was Rome and I was excited to see the city from a new perspective with a different travel group. When I was 18, I didn’t appreciate the city the way I did the second time around. I couldn’t wrap my head around the history that was literally all over the city. There were ruins in the middle of the streets and the whole city was built around thousand year old building fragments. We kept it simple and started off with the Pantheon. It was definitely beautiful, but not much else to do after a half hour. The beauty must have made me hungry, because I absolutely needed gelato on our way to the place where dreams are made of (shout out Lizzie McGuire). I was already dreaming with the most amazing gelato I’ve possibly ever had, but was still  excited to make a wish at the Trevi Fountain.

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 The next day we started the day with pasta for breakfast and more gelato for dessert, because when in Rome, am I right? We first checked out the Roman Forum then off to the Colosseum. Last time I was in Italy, I didn’t pay much attention to the Forum. Walking past it again, I was in awe at it’s beauty and history. I couldn’t believe that was what remained of a huge prominent architecture from thousands of years ago. I’d also already seen the Colosseum with my aunt, but this time felt more beautiful than I remembered. I couldn’t believe so many years ago people were able to build something like this without the tools we have today. This is the type of art that really gets me going.

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The next day we said goodbye to Rome and said hello to the Amalfi Coast. First on our list was Sorrento, where we set home base before exploring the rest of the islands. When we woke up, we rented a car to check out Positano. I had always seen pictures of the colorful houses stacked onto each other, but didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, the island is extremely tiny and only true local lives there. It took a whopping 40 minutes to tour the entire city, but wow did it take my breath away. It might not have been the nicest day, but but we got more pasta, more geltao and left happy and full for our next stop.

The next day, we checked out Capri, one of the places I had been to before. I was lucky that the tide was low enough for the Blue Grotto so I didn’t mind the tide was too high for us to try it this time around. As soon as we docked, we headed straight for gelato, with a plot twist! Two words: Waffle. Bowls. A cute picnic by the water turned into an epic fail when Jillian slipped and blessed the ocean with her gelato, but it was a perfect day and all vibes were great. After drinking wine on the rocks and making new friends, things took a turn for the worse when me and Jillian missed the ferry back to Sorrento. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if we didn’t already book train tickets to Florence that night, so we bought new tickets, grabbed a plate or two of pasta and kicked back for the rest of our time in Capri.

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When we boarded the train we didn’t realize how much fun our disaster would turn into. I even heard back from a summer internship in LA I really wanted. Turns out, I got the job! Since we got into Florence late, I only had one full day in this beautiful city, but enjoyed every statue, pasta and gelato to the fullest. We went to see the statue of David, where I couldn’t help but be a little immature. We got yelled at by the guards, but had a picture-perfect moment. For one of the last stops of the day, we  were told to go to this amazing panini place just down the street. I got prosciutto, arugula and mozzarella with a side of Florence tongue photo-bombing me.

After our panini party, we ended the day at the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, for final pictures and another round of gelato because why the fuck not. After a full week of binge eating my favorite food, I said goodbye to Italy and probably said hello to a few extra pounds. But hey, I wouldn’t trade my food baby for anything in the world. Always a pleasure, Italy.

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If you’re not Dutch, you ain’t much!

Don’t know how it’s already been almost a year since I last visited one of my favorite cities in the world. A city that bikes more than it walks, and smokes more than a chimney. Where coffee meets weed and where truffles meet smart shops. As the #Amsterfam, we definitely did the trip right, but I couldn’t wait to come back home.

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As soon as we landed, we put down our bags and headed straight to a cloud of smoke. We had just enough time to for a few pre-rolls at the Bulldog Coffee Shop before grabbing dinner and calling it a night. The next day, we walked around the city with a friend studying abroad in Amsterdam. I was so fucking jealous. I looked into every program there was for study abroad in Amsterdam, but the school didn’t have classes I needed and my parents weren’t to thrilled with the idea. She took us to my favorite a breakfast spot, called The Pancake Bakery. If the name wasn’t obvious enough, this place only serves pancakes. And these aren’t your typical blueberry or banana pancakes. Think crepes, so there’s way less dough and way more room for toppings. To paint a picture in your head, it was 10:00 AM and we were loading up our pancakes with Nutella and ice cream. Definitely not mad about it.

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After walking off the tub on Nutella I just ate for breakfast, we went to check out Amsterdam’s finest museums. And by finest, I mean the cheese museum and the museum of popcorn. For those of you who have never been to Amsterdam, these are basically just little shops that sell all different types of cheeses and different flavored popcorn. Naturally, we walked around, sampling every single thing. I genuinely thought I was fully, but the post pancake joint thought otherwise. Next stop was the Anne Frank House. I didn’t get the chance to visit when I came with my parents a couple of years ago, and after reading her diary in middle school, I was excited to finally see the house she had always talked about. It was a heart filled moment and I was so happy to have finally experienced it.

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The next day, we woke up to visit Vondelpark to take pictures with the famous iamsterdam sign. We had a full blown photo shoot, trying to figure out the least basic way to take a picture in front of the most basic monument in Amsterdam. Emily settled for a pun about getting the D, I settled for a Stroopwafel next door. We took our second serving of dessert for the day and relaxed in the grass before checking out the Van Gogh Museum. After the whole Mona Lisa incident, I tried not too get too excited about finally seeing The Starry Night. We spent over an hour in the museum looking for this one picture, only to find out that it’s NOT THERE. This infamous Dutch painting is for some reason hanging somewhere in NY at the Moma? Still don’t get why, but we settled for the Sunflowers painting then ended our day.

 

After a day full of dessert, I couldn’t wait to see what The Police made such a big fuss about with the Red Light District. I had been singing Roxanne in my head for the past three days, so naturally I had to scope out the scene. Every window had a different woman; No shame, no sorrow, no clothes… just a street full of working gals ready to put their talents to the test. Fun fact, most of the girls will only sleep with men so if you had something else in mind, think again. We ended our night with a late dinner and a final trip to the coffee shop. I was sad our weekend was coming to an end, but I knew this wasn’t goodbye. I can’t thank Amsterdam enough for consistently showing me a great time with great company, with even better weed and high snacks. I’ll be back again soon.

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Eiffel in Love with Paris

After weeks of traveling, I was finally making my way to the most romantic city in the world. Good thing I’m traveling to the city of romance with none other than my abroad girlfriend Emily. Lucky for us, Emily has a family friend who lives right in the heart of the city. I’ve heard people say Paris is the New York of Europe, but when we arrived at our weekend house, it was clear that Paris does it bigger and better. There were 3 stories… and a basement… with an INDOOR POOL. Yup, I could tell I was definitely going to like it here.

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Emily’s friend made us the perfect Paris platter when we arrived, with fresh cheeses, baguette, and obviously croissants. After settling in, we went to the basement where our room (and indoor pool) was waiting for us. We got ready and headed to L’Arc Club, where our friends who studied abroad in Paris told us was a must see. You’d think the clubs in Paris would be classy and sophisticated, but we walked into a male strip tease and money being blown all over the room… E11even is that you? After a couple hours out, and smelling like a human ash tray, we got home, showered, and got ready for our first big day.

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We woke up to another French feast to kick start the day, with 3 different types of croissants and cheeses… Basically my heaven. Since we had the whole weekend to get lost in Paris, I wanted to strike gold and check out Versailles. And by strike gold, I mean it literally because the entire palace was covered in it. The gates were solid gold, the statues were gold and that was just the beginning. After pretending we cared about the history on our tour, we made it to the Gardens of Versailles. I had never seen a more massive backyard where you could’ve probably fit another palace or two. After walking for what seemed like miles, we made it to Marie Antoinette’s sulking quarters. A girl cut from the same cloth as me, she had an entire house just for her mood swings AND her husband was never allowed. She definitely knew the right way to use her mood.

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After the tour, we stopped at a local market to load up on more cheese and baguette for a picnic at the Eiffel Tower. We found the perfect spot right out front for some much needed chill time, stuffing our faces with our favorite french duo. When we finished eating, we wanted to check out the top of the tower so we got tickets and made our way up. You could literally see the entire city from every angle, it was magical. When the sun was setting and we were out of cheese, we headed home to get ready for our next night out. We were pumped to check out a concert in Paris for a popular techno group called Disclosure. We met up with some friends to pre-game in the city before heading to the show. First off, the venue was at some underground club below a random bridge by the Eiffel Tower. It was sick. And of course Disclosure latched on to all of us and crushed it. We ended the night with a street dog and FINALLY the indoor pool.

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On our last day, we decided to immerse in the culture and check out the Louvre. After countless stories, history lessons and watching the Davinci code, I couldn’t wait to see what all the hype was about with the Mona Lisa. You had to walk through the Louvre for what felt like days before getting to what I thought was going to be mind blowing. Turns out, the Mona Lisa is about the size of desktop computer screen and I couldn’t believe THAT was what people travel from all over the world to see. Now don’t get me wrong, I really do like art and museums if it really reels me in, but my expectations were way too high. It was one of the smallest paintings in the museum with a rope keeping everyone about five feet away from this “master piece.” My mom would probably kill me for talking so badly about it, but it was still beautiful and I’m so happy we went. If not for the Mona Lisa, but for the ever so basic picture touching the tip of the Louvre. Safe to say, I nailed it.

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We then walked down the street to the Love Lock Bridge, where me and Emily literally locked down our love and threw away the key. When we got home, our hosts were preparing an authentic french dinner for us and the rest of their family. I tried escargot for my first time, quail eggs, duck, and ended with more croissonts of course. It was the perfect way to end our romantic French get-away.

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Czech me out!

Ever since I went on a “March of the Living” trip to Poland my senior year of high school, I had never been a big fan of Eastern Europe. It was cold, gloomy, and kind of the worst. That was how I felt, up until everyone and their mothers decided to study abroad in Prague. So it got my thinking, maybe there is a reason people love the city so much. I was excited to finally Czech it out for myself.DCIM101GOPRO

After getting settled in, we walked straight to the Old Town Square, and my jaw literally dropped. I had never seen a city so beautiful. The buildings looked like castles straight out of a fairy tale from literally every angle. There were street performers at every angle of the square, with people levitating, dressed up in costumes, and the usual European bubble making.

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A few minutes staring at all the beauty and I was hungry to check out more.We couldn’t help but notice a giant row of food stands all throughout the square… Now you’re talking my language. How could we fully experience Prague, or any city for that matter, without trying their food? We got chips on a stick and this potato dish to start, but were still hungry for more. Our friends who studied abroad here said that we absolutely had to find fried cheese. Not sure if Prague was notorious for this or if white girls just really love cheese, but you didn’t have to tell me twice. We finally came across a little stand, hidden behind the alleys of Old Town Square. We thought we hit the jackpot, until our noses got a whiff of something even sweeter. If you haven’t heard of chimney cones, do you even like dessert? It was everything I’d dreamed of and more. Fried dough covered in sugar, with Nutella coating the entire inside, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. If I die, you can just bury me here.

After the food tour, it was time for a segway tour. We took Segway’s through different parts of the city and ended at the highest point to see Prague from a different angle. Even though the sun wasn’t shinning, the city looked magical form above. After the tour, we regrouped and set off to see more. We walked across the Charles Bridge trying to find every girls number one priority when visiting…

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…If you can’t think of it, I’ll give you a hint. “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” That’s right, the John Lennon Wall. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE Beatles fan, but this wall was kind of a disappointment. It was small, overcrowded and covered with graffiti. I didn’t understand what all the hype was about, but I love John Lennon so I wasn’t about to leave without a picture in front of it. After Czecking off everything on our list, we packed up and got ready to head back home.

Lil Swiss Sunshine

After a lovely 11 hour bus ride from Barcelona, we made it to the land of 12 euro hot chocolates. Yup, the actual most expensive country in the world. Interlaken Switzerland… Where their cheese and chocolate are as fine as their Swiss Bankers. When we pulled up to the hostel, my jaw dropped at how beautiful it was. The Swiss Alps were literally all around us and I loved every second of it. It was the cutest little ski town that probably costs more than my four year college tuition to live in for just a year.12688038_10205779285422212_5711322137542467837_n

After settling down, we went for a stroll through the mountains and stumbled upon the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen. Most lakes in the states are dark and dirty, but Lake Brienz had crystal clear water with the most insane shades of blue. You could even see the sun shining between the mountain peaks, reflecting onto the water. I shit you not, the pictures we took looked like they were made on Photoshop and didn’t need editing at all. This was basically a white girls dream come true and I didn’t think it could get any better.

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The next day, we kicked it up a notch. Coming from Florida, the only skiing I know how to do is in the water, so skiing in the Swiss Alps was a big no for me. I had something a little more action-packed in mind. If you can’t ski the Swiss Alps, how about fly over them? After already sky diving for my 18th birthday, I couldn’t wait for round two. My adrenaline was rushing and I was ready to soar. Me, Emily, and our friend Jilian, suited up and got ready for our jump. 13,000 feet up and I was starting to feel my heart drop into my stomach. A few more minutes later, and we were free falling and I had the biggest smile on my face. I’d seen the Swiss Alps from below, but now I had a completely new perspective. The lake was amazing until I jumped out of an airplane, over the most beautiful mountain peeks in the world. I couldn’t believe this was my life right now.

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After an action packed day, it was time to for something sweet… CHOCOLATE MAKING. Not going to lie, I probably ate my weight in Swiss chocolate, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I somehow spent more money in this one weekend than what I usually spend in an entire month, but when in Switzerland I guess?

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If anyone visits Switzerland, I highly recommend skydiving in the Swiss Alps. It’s an opportunity you’ll never be able to relive and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. If jumping out of an air plane isn’t your cup of Swiss hot chocolate, definitely try a chocolate making class. It’s fun, easy and what’s better than chocolate for breakfast??

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The Berghain Battle

My 21st birthday was coming up, and naturally, nobody was safe. I had a typical Barcelona night out to prepare, starting at Pacha and ending at Sutton. But Barcelona club life wasn’t enough. I craved something different and even more unique, with wild and unpredictable nights. For the real celebration, me and Emily couldn’t think of a better place to go than Berlin, father of deep house and underground techno.

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Friday night we got dressed up in our little black jeans, sneakers and all, to try and get into one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, Berghain. We researched all day what to wear and how to act to get the golden ticket into this club. We even bought fake piercings to really seal the seal and we’d like to think it was believable. But after waiting over an hour in line to only get flat out rejected, it was apparent that we screamed American girls trying way too hard. There was nothing to do now, but check out another club. We got a cab and took our talents to Tresor. After waiting in line for another wonderful hour, we finally made it inside. Emily made herself right at home and became best friends with the bouncers… Naturally. We kept switching between the main dance floor to dancing upstairs and thought it was one of the coolest clubs we’d been to… That was until a local asked us if we wanted to go check out the basement.

 

As the good Jewish girl that I am, my mom taught me to never talk to strangers, but we heard stories of underground techno and weren’t about to pass that up. When we made it downstairs, we were blinded by a strobe light hallway. It honestly looked like a scene straight out of a horror movie, but for some reason, we couldn’t turn away. After walking down the hall and down even more stairs, we finally found the Berlin we’d been looking for. Imagine an old soap factory turned into a club. Now imagine the basement of that old soap factory, dark, foggy, loud, and filled with people dancing like no one else is around. If you weren’t dancing, you had no reason to be down there. So, just as the locals, we broke down and got weird. What was so awesome about this place is that everyone was here for the music. No one cared about what they looked like or who else was going to be there and everyone dressed for comfort, not style. The Berlin vibes were right up my ally, and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to turn 21.

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The next day, we took our talents around the city. As two nice Jewish girls studying abroad, we wanted to make our parents proud by checking out the Jewish Museum.
We had no idea why none of the locals were calling it the Holocaust Museum, but we figured they were trying not to sound anti-symetic? We just went with it. When we finally got to the museum, we realized it actually had nothing to do with the Holocaust at all. It really was just a Jewish museum, showing the history of Judaism and how it’s grown and developed over the years. Not necessarily my cup of Manashevitz, given that I had learned all of this in Hebrew School anyway, but  we were happy with our decision to do something educational during our time there.

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After a failed attempt trying to learn more about Germany and our people in WWI, we decided to jump to the 1980’s to visit what was left of the Berlin Wall. It was freezing, no sunshine, and we’d been walking all day, but to us, the city was still shining. It was modern, funky, and beautiful to say the least. We built snowman’s and ate schnitzel like the good wanna-be Germans that we were for the weekend.

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After a day packed with activities, it was time for Berghain take two. We put the fake piercings back on, took off all our makeup, and got to the club before the doors even opened. After waiting in silence, hoping the bouncer wouldn’t recognize us and finally let us in, we got denied… Yet again. We were so confused. We heard there was no rhyme or reason to who gets in or why, but we’d never seen anything like this. There was a man completely alone right in front of us who was let in right away, but the bouncers denied two girls? We definitely weren’t in Miami anymore.

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As much as we loved Tressor, we decided to check out a new place we heard about, called Watergate. It was a funky two story club right on the water. The music was great and the people watching was even better. But even after a few hours, we were still itching for Berghain. It was our last night in Berlin, so what else did we have to lose? We got in a cab and headed for Berghain where we hoped third times a charm would work. We got there at 5:00 AM (sorry again mom), and there was no one in site. We walked straight to the front, big coats on and all, but again, flat out rejected.

 

We obviously couldn’t end our last night like that, so back to Tressor to finish off the morning. The bouncers remembered us and let us walk right in. We had so much fun that we stayed until they were kicking people out. Normally, I’m never the girl to stay that late at a club… ever. I’m the queen of leaving early to post game and eat pizza. But it was my 21st birthday weekend, we were only in Berlin once, and I was with Emily Katz, so safe to say you know what happened next. We finally left around 10:00 AM to go back to the hotel and shower before our flight.

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As we were low-key dying from lack of sleep, food and hydration at the airport, I couldn’t help but feel so alive about our weekend in Berlin. It might have been because it was my 21st birthday, it might have been because I could wear sneakers to the club, or it honestly could’ve been the fact that I didn’t know a single person so I didn’t have any awkward birthday encounters, but Berlin will always have a weird special place in my heart… Until next time.

First Week in Abroadcelona

Born and raised in Miami, you’d think Spanish was my first language by default. Unfortunately, the Miami-Dade County Schooling System was no match for my semester in Spain. From the moment I stepped out of the airport, I was greeted by what seemed like millions of cab drivers, none of which spoke any english of course. Trying to decipher Spanish with very average Spanglish skills was one thing, but now I had to try and figure out Catalan? HA, good luck to me. Good thing I picked up a few things from my 12 years of spanish, such as “vamos a la playa” and “no intiendo.” So, aside from me repeatedly telling the cab driver I had no idea what he was saying, I somehow was able to direct me and my roommate Emily towards the beach where our apartment was by. When we got to what we thought was our apartment, we found ourselves lost between the hidden ally ways of the Gothic Quarter. Just two girls, five bags, two backpacks, and a whole lot of hangry from the seven hour flight.

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After finally finding our apartment and settling in, we took a walk around our neighborhood, in hopes of finding what all girls who go to Europe are looking for… Food, Duh. Unfortunately, our hunger was no match for siesta, until we found a pot of gold at the end of a beautiful rainbow. That delicious pot of gold is called Bo de B, and the end of the rainbow just so happened to be right around the corner from our apartment. If you don’t know what Bo de B is, I’ll give you the scoop. Imagine the Chipotle of sandwiches, but SO MUCH BETTER. As a Florida native, it kills me to say this puts even a pub-sub to shame. For those of you not blessed with this miraculous grocery store in your area, Publix Deli know’s what’s up with when it comes to subs. At Bo de B, all the ingredients are fresh and healthy, at a whopping four euros per manwich. And yes, manwich, because I’ve never seen more food stuffed into one baguette in my life.

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Finally, it was Emily’s bed time, and by bed time I mean dinner for Spaniards. She may go to sleep in Gainesville every night at 9:00pm, but when in Rome, am I right? We stumbled across a tapas place called Sensi, that looked pretty good, but we didn’t know what to expect since 9:00pm is an early dinner in Spain.  We basically got everything on the menu and not a single plate was bad. Even the bread was better than any thing I’ve had anywhere in Florida.

Now that we got a beginners taste of the culture, we were ready to see if Barcelona nightlife had anything on South Beach. Coming from Miami Beach, I was used to starting our nights late, but there’s a huge difference between hitting the clubs at midnight vs. 2:00 AM and when we got to Opium, it was basically empty. It took another hour until the club was filled. Not that showing up to a club at 3:00 AM in Miami is abnormal, but that’s usually the second spot of the night where as in Spain, everyone’s just getting started. Aside from time, there’s a huge difference in who get’s in and how you get into these clubs. Boys somehow manage to make their way with no table, no bottle, and no boobs. In Barcelona, a stray dog could walk up to the front door of Opium, say the magic word “Kyke” and BOOM, you’re in. Despite popular belief, no one is trying to offend any Jews with that slang. That’s actually the club promoters name. And as if that wasn’t weird enough, there are two of them, pronounced “Kee-Que”. But, hey I’m all here for it.

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After a great first night out, me and Emily headed home as the sun started to rise. We stumbled upon what seemed to be the only bakery open that early on a Tuesday? Spain man. This cute little bakery turned into our morning spot everyday on our way to class for cafe con leche y tortilla boquadillo. As we were stuffing our faces with all the croissants and pastries the alcohol in our stomachs could handle (sorry mom), I couldn’t help but think how unique this city truly was. I had always thought of Miami as the city that never sleeps, but we weren’t in American anymore. Well Barcelona, it looks like I’ve met my match. Hopefully my high school days are enough to prepare me for the semester of a life time.

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