Abroad and Well

After four months of traveling Europe, I felt like a true local. I had visited almost every city or country that has been on my mind and definitely got the most out of each trip. With our classes finally over, I was excited for a straight week of vacation. We couldn’t think of a better place than two islands right off the coast of Spain.

First up was Mallorca, a cute little island only 40 minutes away by plane. And speaking of, after accidentally booking the wrong flight from my boyfriend Billy, I ended up arriving a couple hours early. Luckily Emily was already there so I had a friend to hang with on the beach while we waited. We grabbed lunch at a little cafe and enjoyed mediocre chicken fingers and french fries in the sand. The water was so clear, you could see the sand perfectly right under. The sun was shining and it was the perfect day to lay out.

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When Billy arrived, our sunny day turned gloomy and not all was well. He’ll kill me for mentioning this, but the kid had a rash all over his hands and feet. No one wanted to touch him or even get near him. When it got worse the next day, we went to a hospital that was no help at all. Turns out, he was allergic to sulfur, which is commonly found in many European medicines over the counter. Now knowing that he wasn’t contagious, or going to die, we were ready to finally make the best of this trip while it lasted.

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We found a secret cave at one of the most beautiful beaches I had ever seen. Playa del Ingles looked like a picture from a green screen. The water was crystal clear and you could see the shadows of the boats reflecting perfectly onto the water. We saw a food shack on our way to the cave and ordered sandwiches and french fries for a picnic in our new spot. We were listening to music, enjoying the sun and getting lost in a beautiful day. The trip was finally turning around for us.

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The next day we said bye to Mallorca and Emily and headed out to the Canary Islands. I heard the southern part of the island had the best weather and the most beautiful beaches, so we set our for Maspalomas Gran Canaria. What people failed to mention was that this part of the island was full blown nude. We figured everyone was naked because it’s Europe, but no…. nude beach. Dope. Despite our minor set back, we were finally laying on the beach and it could not have been a more beautiful day. We looked around to admire the world around us and were in awe at everything we would see. The only other place I’d been to that had mountains in the distance of the beach was California… was I dreaming?

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I didn’t think anything could top that until we took a tour around the beach. Turns out, there was a field of sand dunes behind us the entire time. One second we were on the beach, the next it felt like we were on a desert. I was so pleasantly surprised with how beautiful and unique this beach was. A couple days on the beach, and horrible sunburns later, it was time for us to finally say goodbye to our amazing abroad experience.

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It hadn’t yet hit me that the best four months of my life were coming to an end. We packed up our stuff to head back to Barcelona to say goodbye to the most amazing city in
the world. We obviously ended our night with Bo de B ad a final walk through the Gothic Quarter. As we headed to the airport and parted ways home, I reflected back on my experiences abroad. I met so many incredible people, went on amazing journeys, and was literally handed the world for a semester. I can’t thank my parents enough for the trip of a life time and the most incredible experience I have yet to endure. Going back home to reality still didn’t seem right, but like always, I knew I’d be back again.

Hungary for Budapest

Here we go again with those weird Eastern Europe vibes. But actually, after a great trip to Prague I was excited to see what Budapest had to offer. To begin, let’s have a short 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 they are now one city, but back in the day they developed completely individually, only separated by the Danube river.

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My best friend took a little Euro trip last summer and had only great things to say about Budapest. He gives us the whole load down front to back. We were told to stay in a dope
party hostel in Pest, called Retox. We immediately booked the last private room and were ready to see what was in store. When we showed up to the hostel, it definitely exceeded our expectations. The hostile was run by young adults from all over the world. We got to know a few of them and their stories were incredible. Most of them were backpackers who stumbled upon Budapest and figured since they liked it so much they’d stay. A few years later, those people are now our guides in this crazy town.

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After settling in, we went to check out the top of the Basilica for a view of the city. Three euros, and about 300 stairs later, we had the most incredible view and hopefully a more toned bottom too. We decided to take it easy since we were waiting for our friends to arrive for the real action to happen, but still toured around Pest seeing all it had to offer. We passed by some local markets and naturally I had to try a potato dish that was calling my name. I still have no idea how to spell or even pronounce it, but wow was it good.

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The next day, we woke up and 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 can’t complain. Our friends Harry and Annie finally landed and we immediately set out to see what all the Buda buzz was about. We walked around gazing at the beautiful architecture, straight out of a Fairytale similarly to Prague. We checked out the Buda Castle then hiked up the Citadella for one of the most incredible views. I thought the Basilica was amazing, until this.

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Finally it was time for lunch, and me and Emily knew just where to take Harry and Annie. We went back to the local market with all different types of traditional Hungarian meals. When my friend Hershel told me that Goulash is a must try in Eastern Europe, he meant Budapest. Even though I had my first taste of it in Prague, I gotta say that Budapest is not only bigger, but better too. For those who don’t know, it’s basically beef stew with some carrots and potatoes… in a bread bowl. Literally couldn’t be more up my ally if it tried. Even though it was one of my favorite foreign dishes, I was still Hungary for more. We caught gaze with a woman deep frying dough, layering mounds of Nutella on top, and on others piling it up with a white sauce and cheese. Safe to say, me and Emily had to get one of each and try them both. Apparently these giant elephant ears are called Langos, and they were definitely worth the thousands of calories.

After eating our way through Hungary, we took a little break before the famous bath parties at Szechenyi bath. I had heard stories about these crazy parties that go down in a giant thermally heated pool by hot springs that naturally run right under it. We were pumped to dive into the action. It felt a little like Miami since the pool was warm like the Atlantic Ocean and everyone was up all night. We met up with a few friends and began what turned into one of the best nights abroad. Safe to say, we killed the (bath) tub.
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 got my last traditional goulash and something sweet for the airport. It’s crazy that this is one of my last trips I’d be taking abroad. I’m still not sure how these four months have already flown by, but this trip was definitely one for the books and a perfect way to end our school semester.

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You can’t spell Spain without pain

Even after Spring Break, my adventures were no where near done. I arrived home from Barcelona only to be greeted by my older sister Rachel. Three years ago, she had the amazing opportunity to go abroad in Barcelona and now here we are, a few years later and her dream of reliving the abroad glory days are right in her hands. All she wanted was one last taste of Abroadcelona. Even though I was just ending my Spring Break, I was more than ready for my next adventure in my favorite city with my favorite person.
For our first adventure, we went to Parc Ciutadella where we took out the row boats and had a nice day on the lake. We walked by the Arc de Triumph and all through the park for a little since it was a beautiful day. We didn’t have too much time, so after our relaxing day at the park we headed home to get ready for dinner. By popular demand, her request was Bo de B. Music to my ears. We each got a boquadillo and Patatas Bravas and inhaled our favorite Barcelona treasure. Before passing out, I took her down my favorite street in El Borne and we got some empanadas to go. We hung out and watched a movie with our empanadas before getting ready for our next big day.

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We got up early and headed to Park Guell, where we’d both already been before, but going back now was nostalgic, and we’ve never been with each other. We got to the ticket booth around 2:00 PM and of course all passes were sold out until about 7:00 PM… Cool. 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. The most rebellious she’s ever been and her adrenaline was rushing. After a few hours walking around the gardens and looking at all of Gaudi’s beautiful artwork, we decided to siesta before dinner.

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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 and was so excited for a new tapas experience. After another delicious meal, we headed home to get ready to take on Loco Lunes. My sister has had dreams about reliving Loco Lunes, and when she found out they changed the location to Opium, she merely had a heart attack of joy. I’m not usually the biggest fan of Opium, but this Loco Lunes was one for the books.
When we woke up, we felt like a ton of bricks were poured onto our heads. It took all the strength we had left in our bodies to turn down Bo de B right around the corner of my place, but needed something more. The only cure was a day on the beach and CDLC for sangria and 5 euro massages. So thankful we were able to drink away our hangover right in time for our next meal! This time, we invited my boyfriend to take on both of our top tapas restaurant called, Sensi. No surprise it was just as good as she had remembered and still 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 too legit. No reservations, no tables, first come first serve, and if you can’t find a seat, enjoy your meal standing at the bar. The locals didn’t mind, my sister definitely did. That being said, we got two chairs and had the amazing taps made right in front of you.

Now that our stomachs were full and our hearts were happy, we were ready for a night out at Sutton. The night turned into frozen pizza and sisterly love. I was so happy Rachel added onto my already incredible experience abroad. I was sad to see her leave, but exited for our next adventure when she comes to visit me in California this summer. Stay tuned for the next Stein-venture.

EATALY

After months of 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 for its amazing food. The last time I went to Italy was when I had just graduated from high school and took a short two week trip to a few countries in Europe. One of the few I was fortunate enough to visit was Italy. I went with my aunt and we hit most of the major spots, but there was still so much more I wanted to see. When Emily, Jilian and Alex decided to travel Italy for our Spring Break, I was pumped to be revisiting the paradise of pizza and pasta.

We first landed in Rome and I was so excited to see the city from a new perspective. When I was 18, I didn’t think much about ruins covering the middle of the streets. This time around, I couldn’t believe there is an actual city built around thousand year old building fragments. On our first day, we kept it simple and visited the Pantheon. It was definitely beautiful, but not much to do after gazing at the art for a half hour. The art and beauty must have made us hungry, because we stopped for gelato on our way to the place where dreams come true. I was already dreaming with the most amazing gelato I’ve possibly ever had, but I couldn’t wait to make a wish on the Trevi Fountain. It only took about 40 tries to get the perfect boomerang of us throwing our coins in the fountain, but my gelato kept me calm, so I couldn’t complain.

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 The next day we went to check out the Roman Forum and Colosseum. I had already seen the Colosseum with my aunt, and it was honestly more beautiful than I remembered. I couldn’t believe so many years ago people were able to build something so big and detailed without the tools we use to build today. Since you weren’t allowed to bring any food inside, I had to wait patiently for our next stop for gelato. After a much needed pasta nap, we were finally ready for round two. We all set out for dinner and each ordered our own pasta, with a pizza pie and fresh tomato mozzarella on the side. We mixed and matched all of our different dishes and somehow managed to finish it all, leaving everyone in a major food coma. I don’t understand how people here eat the way they do and manage to make it out at night. I think I’ve finally met my match.

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The next day we said goodbye to Rome and headed to the Amalfi Coast. First on our list was
Sorrento, where we had the pleasure of staying in yet another beautiful Hilton Hotel,
courtesy of Alex. Since we got in late, we wanted to stay in Sorrento for the night to see
what it had to offer. The next day, we rented a car to check out Positano. I had always seen pictures of the colorful houses stacked onto each other and my boyfriend had always joked about moving here one day. It took a whopping 40 minutes to tour the entire city, but wow did it take my breath away. After a lovely day by the beach, we got yet another meal of pasta and headed to our next adventure.

The next day, we checked out Capri, the one place I had actually been to before. I was fortunate enough to have done the Blue Grotto once before, because this time around the
tide was too high. As soon as docked in, me and Jillian headed straight for gelato in a waffle bowl. A cute picnic by the water turned into an epic fail when Jillian slipped and blessed the ocean with her gelato. It was already turning out to be a good day. After
drinking some 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 from Sorrento to Florence that night at 5:00 PM. Unfortunately, the next ferry out of Capri wasn’t until closer to 4:00 PM, so me and Jillian bought a new train ticket and took our sweet time enjoying the sun and grabbing a plate of spaghetti or two.

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When we boarded the train we didn’t realize how fun of a time our disaster turned into. Me and Jillian loved the alone time and not feeling rushed. I even heard back from an internship I had just interviewed for. Turns out, I got the job! And I was so pumped knowing that I was going to be living in California for the summer. We got into Florence very late, and got a quick bite before passing out for the night. I unfortunately only had one full day in this beautiful city, but I enjoyed every second to the fullest. We first visited the statue of David, where naturally I took a not so basic picture. We got yelled at by the guards, and a few people passing by, but they were no match for our good time. Naturally, the museum made us hungry so we stopped by this amazing panini place just down the street. I got prosciutto, arugula and mozzarella with a side of Florence tongue photo-bombing me.

We then stopped by a panini place we heard of from basically everyone who’s ever studied abroad in Florence. The line was out the door, but so worth the wait. Stuffed with fresh prosciutto and mozzarella, you can’t go wrong. We ended the day at the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, for final pictures and another round of gelato because it was our last day and why not. After a full week of binge eating, I said goodbye to Italy and said probably hello to a few extra pounds. That being said, I wouldn’t trade in my food baby for anything in the world. I’d eat endless plates of pasta and gelato everyday for the rest of my life if I could. 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 it can breathe. I knew my trip this time around would already be such a different experience than when I last visited with my parents. As the #Amsterfam, we definitely did the trip right, but I was still excited to revisit this beautiful place with a new crowd.

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I couldn’t wait for Emily, Jilian and Alex to see what all the hype was about with Amsterdam. As soon as we landed, we put down our bags and headed straight into the action. We had just enough time to visit the Bulldog Coffee Shop and grab some dinner before the big weekend ahead of us. As we were walking along the canals to head back to our hotel, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia. The city was just as beautiful as I remembered.
The next day, we walked around the city with Emily’s friend who is studying abroad in Amsterdam. She took us to a breakfast place I had the pleasure of trying once before with my parents last summer called The Pancake Bakery. If the name didn’t already give it away, it’s a breakfast place that only serves pancakes. And these aren’t your typical blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes. First of all, these are European pancakes, aka crepes. This means that 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 to kick start our day. Definitely not mad about it.

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After walking off the dessert we just scarfed down for breakfast, we decided to check out some of Amsterdam’s finest museums. And by finest, we mean the cheese museum. For
those of you who have never been to Amsterdam, this is basically a little cheese shop that sells almost every different type of cheese. Naturally, we walked around, sampling every single one. Next stop was the Anne Frank House. I didn’t get the chance to visit this when I came with my parents a couple years back, and after reading her diary in middle school, I was excited to finally see the house she had always talked about. I was able to re-read some of her old diary passages, in the very place she wrote some of them. It was a heart filled moment and I was happy to have finally experienced it.

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The next day, we woke up to visit Vondelpark, where the famous iamsterdam sign resides. Naturally, we took a million pictures in front of it, trying to figure out the most creative way to take a basic picture. Emily settled for a pun about getting the D, I settled for a Nutella waffle at the food stand next door.  We took our food to the grass area of the park, relaxed for an hour or so before checking out the Van Gogh Museum. I’m usually not a fan of museums, but when I heard The Starry Night was there, I was all in. We spent over an hour in the museum looking for this one picture, only to find out at the end that it’s not even in the Van Gough Museum. We settled for the sunflower painting then ended our day.

After getting ready, we headed back out to the city to check out the Red Light District. I had been singing Roxanne in my head for the past 3 days, so naturally I had to scope out the scene. Every window was filled with naked woman; No shame, no sorrow, just a street full of working girls ready to put their talents to the test. It was definitely an experience all in it’s  own. 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. I’ll be back again one day.

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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 the house we’d be staying at, I was shocked when we stepped inside.There were 3 stories… and a basement… with an indoor pool. Yup, I could tell I was definitely going to like it here.

Emily’s family friend Ann, made us a nice little snack 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 had 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 the big day ahead of us.

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We woke up to another delicious and authentic French meal Ann made for us to kick start the day. Since I had never been to Paris, I knew I needed to check out Versailles. When we got to the castle, I was in awe at the gold trimmings lining the entirety of the Palace. The gates were solid gold and the property looked massive. Who was I supposed to tell I was ready to move in? After touring the inside, we finally made it to the Gardens of Versailles. I thought the castle was huge, until we started taking a tour around the garden. You could’ve fit two more palaces n that proper comfortably. It was insane. After walking for what seemed like miles we made it to Marie Antoinette’s sulking quarters. She had an entire house, double the size of mine back home, specifically for her mood swings. AND her husband was never allowed. She definitely knew how to get her way.

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On our way back from touring the castle, we stopped at a local market to get fresh cheese and baguette for a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze, and the day was so far perfect. When the day came to an end, we headed home to get ready for a concert. We were hyped that we were in Paris, about to see a popular techno group called Disclosure. We met up with some friends in the city to pre-game before heading to the show. Safe to say, they KILLED the club. The show definitely catered more to the European market rather than if they played in America, but the experience was amazing. To make the night even better, it ended with a hotdog and when we got home we took a late night dip in the indoor pool.

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The next day, we were getting ready for Eiffel Tower round two. We had already done the picnic, now we wanted to go all the way to the top to see Paris from above. After capturing our perfect moment, we headed down and made our way to the Louvre.
After countless stories and history lessons, I was excited to see what all the hype was about with the Mona Lisa. You had to walk through the Louvre for about a mile before even getting to what I thought was going to be mind blowing. I’m usually not the biggest fan of museums, but I had such high expectations for this, that when we finally met face to face, I wasn’t all that impressed. The painting was less than half the size of most of the other paintings all throughout the museum. But what about that detail? I wouldn’t know. There was a rope five feet away from her that you weren’t allowed to step past. Despite my disappointment, I was happy I went to see what all the fuss was about. And even more so, I was ready to finally take the ever so basic picture touching the tip of the Louvre. Safe to say, I nailed it.

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After the Louvre, we walked down the street to the Love Lock Bridge, where me and Emily put our names on a lock and threw away the key. When we got home, Ann was preparing a delicious french meal for us with her entire family. She made escargot, quail eggs, duck, and so many more French delicacies. It was the perfect way to end our romantic French get-away in a traditional and fun way. The hospitality was great, the adventures were even better. I’ll definitely be heading back to this beautiful city one day.

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Czech me out!

Ever since my March of the Living trip to Poland senior year of high school, I had never been a big fan of Eastern Europe. It was cold, gloomy, and the people were kind of the worst. That was my impression off Eastern Europe, 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 eager to finally Czech it out for myself.DCIM101GOPRO

When we first arrived, we were shocked at how cheap everything was. You could go into a convenience store and buy a beer for just 50 cents. Dangerous, or amazing? We then headed to our hotel to get settled and ready for the weekend. And yes, hotel not hostel. Normally, study abroad students would find cheap hostels to stay in for the weekend; however, my travel group decided to do something a little different. My friend Alex just so happens to be a platinum member at Hilton branch hotels. Casual, I know. So we were lucky enough to snag a deal staying in the Executive suite  for a whopping $22 a night. Not to brag, but this fancy deal got us complimentary breakfast and all access to the executive lounge for the weekend, which meant free food and free drinks ALL weekend. And did I mention we got robes? I can already see why people love it here.

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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 they had been up for thousands of years, yet were perfectly preserved. And they were basically castles straight out of a fairy tale. There were street performers at every angle of the square, with people levitating, dressed up in weird costumes, and the usual European bubble making for tourists.

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Now that we saw all the beauty Prague had to offer, we couldn’t help but notice a giant row of food stands. How could we ever fully experience Prague without indulging in their cuisines? We got the ever so basic chips on a stick and an interesting potato dish, but what we were looking for was so much more. Our friends who studied abroad here had told us that we absolutely had to find fried cheese. Apparently Prague is pretty notorious for that. A few hours of searching later and we finally stumbled by a little stand, hidden behind the ally ways of Old Town Square. We thought we had hit the jackpot, until our noses got a whiff of something sweet.

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First on our list was to take a Segway tour aroundthe city. We took the Segways all the way up a mountain to see Prague from a different angle. After gazing at the beauty for a half hour or so, we left for an authentic Czech meal. I heard Goulash was a must try when visiting Eastern Europe, so like the good traveler that I am, I obviously gave it a try. It was delicious, and I was now full (of excitement) for our next activity. If you can’t think of the only other thing to do when visiting Prague, I’ll give you a hint. Girls from all over America wait years for their perfect picture in front of the most basic wall in Europe. 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 a wall, probably no longer than 10 feet, covered with graffiti. I didn’t understand what all the hype was about, but I sure did get my basic picture in front of it.

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Lil Swiss Sunshine

After a lovely 11 hour bus ride from Barcelona, we finally made it to paradise. And by paradise, I mean the actual most expensive country in the world, where their cheese and chocolate are as fine as their Swiss Bankers. That’s right, Interlaken Switzerland. When we pulled up to the hostel, we were in shock at how beautiful the town was. There were mountains from every angle that reminded me of a European Breckenridge. It was a cute little ski town that probably surpasses my four years college tuition.

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As soon as we got there, we emerged ourselves in as much as we could. We took a walk and found ourselves at what looked like a green screen in real life. Lake Brienz was easily one of the most beautiful sites I had ever seen. The water was crystal clear with shades of blue. You could even see the sun shining between the mountain peaks, reflecting onto the water. The pictures we took looked like a professional just went HAM on Photoshop. It was so surreal that there was no editing whatsoever on any pictures we took. Most girls would say in this case that “The lighting was on fleek.” I didn’t think anything else could compare to this, until our adventure the very next day

After already sky diving for my 18th birthday, I was hungry for more action. My adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to fly. 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. Now that I was thousands of feet up, I was able to see the Swiss Alps from a completely different perspective. The lake seemed amazing until I jumped out of an airplane, hovering over the most beautiful mountain peeks in the world. I couldn’t believe this was my life right now. Even the tandem I was attached to let me know that this was his favorite spot in the world to sky dive. he’s been everywhere from Australia, to Dubai, and still says there’s not a site more beautiful.

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After an action packed day, it was time to indulge in my favorite activity. CHOCOLATE MAKING. And honestly, what’s better than Swiss chocolate? An hour later and I was finally ready to try my finished product. It wasn’t the prettiest chocolate, but wow did it taste good. Safe to say I definitely ate my weight in chocolate for the day, and definitely spent more money in this one weekend than double what my allowance usually is back at home for a month. Even the hot chocolate costed more than a full meal’s worth in Gainesville. Still unsure as to how people live here, but it definitely was beautiful.

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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 days of my life. If skydiving isn’t something you can ever see yourself doing, I’d recommend chocolate making. It’s fun, easy, and can you say free chocolate? And coming from Miami, I know absolutely nothing about hitting the slopes, but from what all of my friends said, skiing down the Swiss Alps is an adventure all in its own. My last tip for visiting Switzerland, is to come rich, or come with someone else who’s paying.

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The Berghain Battle

After somehow surviving my first week in Barcelona, I had a new challenge to encounter. My 21st birthday was coming up, and naturally, nobody was safe. I had a typical Barcelona night out to prepare for my 21st starting at Pacha and ending at Sutton. But Barcelona club life wasn’t enough. For the real celebration, me and Emily took our talents to Berlin, father of deep house and underground techno. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t that pumped for Berlin because I really didn’t know what to expect; but they always say the lowest expectations turn into your greatest moments. And I learned this to be very true.

img_9429Friday night we got all dressed up in black, sneakers and all, to try and get into one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, Berghain. For those who don’t know us, we’d like to think our edgy look was believable to strangers. 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 try another club we’ve heard of. We got a cab and took our talents to Tresor. After waiting in line for another wonderful hour, we finally made it inside. Of course Emily made friends with the bouncers, so we were treated like VIPs. We were having the best time prating our break dancing and stepping moves upstairs, we thought it was one of the coolest clubs we had been to. That was until some local asked us if we wanted to go check out the basement.

Normally, as the good Jewish girl that I am, my mom taught me to never talk to strangers, but we had heard stories of underground techno so we were dying to find out what else the club had to offer. When we made it downstairs, we were staring at a dark foggy hallway only visible by strobe light. I’m not going to lie, it looked like a scene straight out of a horror movie, but for some reason, we couldn’t turn away. We walked all down the hallway, down a few more stairs and found the Berlin we had been searching for all night. Imagine an old soap factory turned into a club. Now imagine the basement of that old soap factory, filled with people literally dancing their hearts out. This room was no joke, if you weren’t dancing, you had no business being 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 who they were meeting out. Everyone dressed for comfort, not style and there were never any issues needing a promoter or having to buy an overpriced table. The Berlin vibes were right up my ally, and I could not have asked for a better place to turn 21.12651285_10205779185499714_2806455464964110858_n

The next day, we took a tour around the city. All day we were asking for directions to the Holocaust Museum and constantly were being corrected to calling it the Jewish Museum.
As two Jewish girls, we figured people were trying not to sound anti-symetic, but it’s hard hiding the fact that your country started one of the biggest mass genocides of all time. No hard feelings though. When we finally got to the museum, we realized it had nothing to do with the Holocaust at all. It really was just a Jewish museum, showing the history of Judaism and how it has grown and developed over the years. Not that re-learning everything I already learned in Hebrew School  wasn’t oh so fascinating, but we were hoping for some deep emotional concentration camp history. None the less, we were happy with our decision to do something educational during our time there.

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After our failed attempt at learning more about Germany in WWI, we decided to jump into the 1980’s during the Cold War to visit what was left of the Berlin Wall. It may have been snowing in our faces all day, but despite how cold we were, we couldn’t help but fall in love with the city. It was modern, industrial, 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 would be nice and let us in, we of course got denied, yet again. What type of system was this? The man completely alone right in front of us was let in, but the bouncers denied two girls? We definitely weren’t in Miami anymore.

As much as we loved Tressor, we decided to check out a new place we heard about, called Watergate. It was a cool two story club, with funky music and great vibes right on the water. The music was great, the people watching was even better. But even after a few hours, we were 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 apply to us this time around. We got there at 5:00 AM (sorry mom), and there was no line at all. We walked through the snow, big coats and all, but again, we were flat out rejected. We obviously couldn’t end our night like that, so back to Tressor to finish off the morning. When we got there, the bouncers remembered us, and let us walk right in. Me and Emily ended up staying until they started kicking everyone 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 left after sunrise to go back to the hotel and shower before our flight.img_9448

As we were waiting in airport, I couldn’t help but feel an overbearing sense of joy about our weekend in Berlin. It may have been because it was my 21st birthday, it may have been that 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 special place in my heart.

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First Week in Abroadcelona

Coming from Miami, you’d think I was fluent in Spanish. 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 learn Spanish from basically scratch was hard enough, but now I had to try and decipher Catalan? HA, good luck to me. Thankfully I picked up a few phrases living in Miami, 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 to 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 cranky from the seven hour flight.

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After finally settling into the cozy new pad, we decided to take a walk around our neighborhood, in hopes that something would turn our day around. As if the day wasn’t already bright and shinny enough, most places were closed for siesta. We were about to call a quits for the day, 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 is only found in the Florida/Georgia area, and safe to say, their Deli know’s what’s up with footlong subs.  At Bo de B, all the ingredients were 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.dscn0561

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. We didn’t know what to expect since it was so empty, but after about a half hour or so, it finally started filling up. We ended up trying some of the most amazing tapas in Barcelona. I couldn’t believe it was a Monday night, and people were eating their last meal of the day at almost 10:00 PM. Gotta love Spain.

Now that we got a beginners taste of the culture, we were finally ready to see if Barcelona nightlife had anything on South Beach. Coming from Miami Beach, I was used to pre-gaming around 11:00 PM, but nobody told me what a rookie mistake it was to be starting the night in Barcelona so early.

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When we got to our friends house, they were all just starting their night, and no where near ready to head towards the clubs. When we finally made our way over, it was 2:00 AM and  Opium 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 the Spaniards make it seem like the norm. Aside from the time people show up to the club, there’s also a huge difference in how you get into these clubs. Somehow boys 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 for a free pass into the most basic club in Barcelona, what more can you expect?

After a great first night out, me and Emily headed home to recuperate for our next big week to come. Upon stumbling home, we found a cute bakery open very early in the morning, that just so happened to be right by our house. Little did we know this would become the bakery we went to every morning on our way to school for cafe con leche y tortilla boquadillo. While we were enjoying our 6:00 AM breakfast (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 journey of a life time.

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