Abroad and Well

After four months traveling Europe, I finally felt like a true local. I had visited almost every city or country that has been on my bucket-list, and I 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 to go than two islands right off the coast of Spain.

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First up was Mallorca, a small island only 40 minutes away from Barcelona by plane. 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 out with on the beach and explore the island with. We grabbed lunch at a cafe on the beach and enjoyed mediocre chicken fingers and french fries in the sand. Although the food was average, the water made up for it all. Some patches were a deep blue, while others were clear and aqua. All I could think was that they definitely don’t have water like this at the beaches in Miami.

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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 from his head to his pinky toes. No one wanted to touch him, let alone get near him. When it got worse the next day, we set out for some medical attention. Turns out, he was just allergic to sulfur, which is commonly found in many over the counter European medicines. Now knowing that no one is contagious, or on their death bed, we were ready to make the best of this trip.

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Upon doing some research, we discovered a beach called Playa del Ingles. After exploring this part of the island for some time, we cam across a secret cave that looked like a picture from a green screen. This time, the water wasn’t crystal clear. Instead, the water had insane shades of greens, golds and blues. It looked as if Gaudi flew from Barcelona to Mallorca to paint the waters in these caves. I couldn’t believe how fake everything looked, even in person. The pictures we took did it some justice, but it’s nothing like seeing it for yourself. We were so captivated by the natural beauty in this spot that we decided to come back here the next day before saying goodbye.

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The next day, we parted ways with Mallorca and headed to a different type of island. Although it is part of Spain, the Canary Islands are technically located right outside of Morocco. Because of the coastal difference, we weren’t expecting such a tribal island. It might have been because we were at the southern tip, Maspalomas Gran Canaria, but wow did this island take my breath away. From one end we saw the gorgeous beach, not as crystal clear as Mallorca, but definitely beautiful in its own way. We looked to one side of the beach and saw a mountain and all I could think about what the fact that no where in Miami has any type of beach like this. The only beach in America I have been to with mountains on the water was in California.

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As if that wasn’t beautiful enough, we looked to the other side of the beach and saw a field of sand dunes. 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 felt like we were lost in the Sahara. I was more than happy with how beautiful and unique this beach was turned out to be. After another couple of days exploring the island and getting sun-turnt on the beach, it was time for us to finally say goodbye to this amazing island.

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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 that is life changing all in it’s own. We packed up our stuff to head back to Barcelona to say a final goodbye to the most amazing city in the world.

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To end our world tour, we obviously had Bo de B for dinner and went on a final walk through my neighborhood in the Gothic Quarter. As we headed to the airport the next morning, I reflected back on my experiences abroad. 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 the trip of a life time and the most incredible experience I have yet to endure. Going back home to reality doesn’t seem right, but I knew I’d be back again.

 

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Hungary for Budapest

Here we go again with those Eastern European 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 on their own, only separated by the Danube river. Although both cities together now form Budapest, each side has it’s own history and culture.

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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 see what was in store for us. When we showed up to the hostel, it definitely exceeded our expectations. To begin, the hostel was run by kids basically our age from all over the world. There were people from Australia to Croatia, even from Israel! Most of them were backpackers who stumbled upon Budapest and figured since they liked it so much they’d stay. A few years later, and those tourists 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 an incredible view and got a little cardio in for the day. We decided to take it easy since we were waiting for our friends for the real action to happen. 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 on our way way 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 I definitely had 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 gazing at the beautiful architecture, which looked like pages straight out of a Fairytale.

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On our way to the Buda Castle, we caught gaze with a woman deep frying dough, layering mounds of Nutella on top. Safe to say, it was enough to capture everyone’s attention. When we got a closer look, we saw there was other fried dough options layered with sour cream and cheese. Obviously 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 a lunch that surpassed the normal amount of calorie intake you’re supposed to eat in a day, we were ready to burn some off by hiking up the Citadella for a view that somehow surpassed that of the Basilica. It was truly the most incredible view of Budapest from every angle. You could see the entire city of Pest, and most major monuments in Buda that made it feel like you’re on top of the world.

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After a nice long hike, what better way to celebrate than with more food?! We headed back to Pest to take our friends to the market we had passed through the day before. My mouth was watering and I knew exactly what to get. Goulash is a beef and potato stew that’s a must try in Eastern Europe. Some have carrots or celery, while other are served in a bread bowl. I want to say goulash is like a Panera bread bowl, but in reality it’s so much more. It’s a thick and filling stew that tastes a whole lot better than it sounds. Even though it was one of my favorite foreign dishes, I was still Hungary for more.

After eating our way through Hungary, we took a little break before the famous parties at Szechenyi bath. For those who don’t know, most of Budapest is built on top of naturally heated springs. Many places have adopted these springs and turned them into relaxing spa pools during the day, and crazy pool parties by night. We were pumped to dive into the action. Coming from Miami, I gotta say it felt a little like home. The pool was warm like the Atlantic Ocean and everyone was up all night. After hours experiencing the culture and fun, it’s safe to say, we killed the (bath) tub.

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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 got my last traditional goulash and something sweet for the airport. It’s crazy to think that this is one of the 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 Italy only to be greeted by my older sister Rachel. Three years ago, she had the amazing opportunity to live 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.

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For our first adventure, we went to Parc Ciutadella where we took out the row boats and had a nice day on the lake. After relaxing in the park, we walked to the Arc de Triomf where we saw all different street performers with incredible talents. We stayed in that area until we were ready to siesta before dinner. By popular demand, her request was of course, Bo de B. Music to my ears. We each got a bocadillo and Patatas Bravas and inhaled our favorite Barcelona treasure. Before passing out, I took her down my favorite street in El Born and we got some empanadas for dinner para llevar. We hung out and watched a movie with our dinner before getting ready for our next big day.

We got up early and headed to Park Guell. We’ve both already been here 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. So 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 so her adrenaline was pumping. If you ask my sister, we were two American outlaws, but in reality we were just two Gaudi lovers strolling around the gardens, looking at all of the beautiful art.

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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. This restaurant had it’s own twist on traditional tapas. It primarily focused on different flat breads that are cut into shareable pieces. It’s definitely not Sensi, but its always delicious. We then headed home to get ready for 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. When we woke up, it 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 from me. 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 our favorite 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 amazing tapas made right in front of you. We got croquettes, muscles, and an incredible beef tartar.

Now that our stomachs were full and our hearts were happy, we were ready to end our journey with a final stroll through La Boqueria. As if the candy here wasn’t enough, we had to stop by Happy Pills so Rachel could bring some goodies home with her. I was sad to see Rachel’s trip coming to an end, but I’m so happy she added onto my already incredible experience abroad.

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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 places 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 to 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 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 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 in our coins, 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. Last time I was in Italy, I didn’t pay much attention to the Forum. Walking past it again, I was truly captivated by it’s beauty and history. I couldn’t believe that was what remained of a prominent architecture thousands of years ago. Although I had also already seen the Colosseum with my aunt, this time I felt it was 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 have today. It was incredible to see such a huge piece of history become such a beautiful art piece.

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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 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 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.

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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

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 interesting 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.

First on our list was to take a tour around the city. We didn’t want to take just any tour though. So we took Segway’s through the city and to the top of a mountain to see Prague from a different angle than we’d already seen. After gazing at the beauty for an hour or so, we headed back down to Old Times Square to regroup and see more. We walked across the Charles Bridge and tried finding our way to every girls number one priority when visiting…

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…If you can’t think of it, 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.

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.12688038_10205779285422212_5711322137542467837_n

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.

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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.

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Friday 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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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.

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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. 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. 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?

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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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