I’m excited for this week’s post, as I’ve actually been able to travel a bit in the past week! While still social distancing in Massachusetts, I finally took advantage of the hot weather and spent last Wednesday at the beach. My friend and I drove down to Marshfield for the day, and I’m definitely going to start making this a weekly thing throughout the summer.
In past summers, I’ve regularly taken day trips to the beach, but it’s always been more difficult since I also would have been working regularly, and friends work regularly, so keeping that and the weather in mind, it wasn’t too often we could just pick up and head to the beach when it was warm out. Now that most of us have fairly open schedules, it’s much easier, and also much more enjoyable since we’ve been spending so much time at home.
The day that we went was almost 90ºF, so the ocean was much needed to cool down. While the beach was more crowded than usual, I do have to say people were doing a good job of social distancing and keeping within their respective groups, away from others. We were on a more private part of Rexhame Beach, so I’m sure the public areas were more crowded, but I was expecting the conditions to be much worse, so I was pleasantly surprised to see people being so careful. This makes me more comfortable going back in upcoming weeks!
I also realized how calming and good for the mind it can be to just step outside your usual environment, since that’s so rare nowadays. I’ve always loved the beach, but this trip was definitely special since I can now appreciate the notion of going to the beach so much more. Not only does it separate me from the place I’ve been spending the entire past three months, but it makes me realize how lucky I am to live so close to so much nature, and I’m aware of how much happier I am by getting out there and just enjoying time in a different place.
Of course not everyone is a beach person, but wherever you are and whatever interests you in nature, I strongly encourage you to start taking advantage of that (while staying safe!). If you’ve already been active and out in nature, try something new. Changing up our routines is incredible for our mental health and mood, and we often don’t realize that until we actually make those changes. I’ve been walking a lot while at home, and while this has become one of my new favorite exercises and ways to get outside, I didn’t realize how used to it I’d become until I actually got out of my home town and relaxed in a new place.
This beach day was the furthest I’ve traveled in the last three months, and while I would normally consider this a routine drive, this time really felt like a travel experience. Although it will probably be a while before I can post true travel content again, this is the closest I could get for now, and I’m okay with that. I’m hopeful that I can continue taking small trips here and there around New England in the coming months, and I think this will be good for me to realize that traveling doesn’t have to mean getting on a plane and leaving the country.
I know this week’s post was shorter, but I just wanted to share the highlight of my last week, which also happened to be a makeshift travel day. I hope this inspires you all to get out someday in the next week and find somewhere new to explore, or even somewhere you used to go all the time and haven’t been able to recently. I still encourage everyone to be safe and take the necessary health precautions, but I think fresh air and a change of scenery is also important for our health.
I hope to see you all next week, enjoy the nicer weather, and stay safe!
I was stuck with finding a topic to write about this week that seemed somewhat relevant at the time, so I went back to the start to what made me start this blog in the first place: travel. Obviously we are unable to travel in the ways most of us would like right now, but this doesn’t mean we can’t still take advantage of our own neighborhoods and our own backyards. Especially during these past few months, I’ve learned there is a lot more around me than I previously thought, and as long as we’re still keeping social distancing practices, I highly recommend you explore somewhere new by you as the days get sunnier.
Last weekend we finally had a break from the rain in Massachusetts, so a friend of mine and I drove down to Marshfield, got some donuts and coffee, and just parked on the side of the road along the water and sat up on the sidewalk of the beach. Of course public beaches and parking lots are closed, but just being able to park next to the ocean and enjoy our breakfast with some fresh air on the water was a major turning point for my mood throughout this whole situation.
[I want to reiterate that in doing all of this it is still important to maintain social distancing – we did not go near any other family on the beach (a decent amount of people were parked/walking along this road), we stayed safe while going in to buy our breakfast, and we made sure to stay by my car so we weren’t traveling too far toward where others had been walking or sitting.]
Even though there’s not much actual activity one can do right now, just getting out of my own town and being by the ocean made such a difference, and I was able to appreciate a beach I’ve been to countless times so much more. I realized how peaceful it can be to just sit in the sun, with the sound of the waves, and not feel like the entire day has to be planned with activities. As the weather continues to warm up – and I’m finally done with school next week – I definitely want to start taking more drives down to the water, and to other areas of nature I’ve been missing.
I’m telling this whole story to emphasize that traveling (especially now!) does not have to mean getting on a plane and flying to some nice hotel in another part of the world. Now more than ever, traveling should simply mean getting out of the house and exploring somewhere new – this can be just as good for the mind. As I said in a previous blog post, nature is the only part of our earth right now that is consistent, that does not know we’re undergoing a pandemic. This will not change, so we should really appreciate and take care of it more.
I’ve found that just being outside for even a few minutes every day improves my mood, makes me feel more active, and gives me a new burst of motivation for the day. So, since that’s really the only thing we can do right now while in quarantine, I’m trying to spend as much time as I possibly can exploring the nature around me, and “traveling” to some new, and some favorite, places. I recommend you all do the same, even just for an hour or two each week.
I know this week’s post was a bit shorter, but I think this is an important message to keep in mind. We are not stuck at home, we are safe at home, so as long as we continue to do our part to keep ourselves and others healthy, I see nothing wrong with finding a new path in the woods to walk along, or driving a few towns over to find some water (even to just sit and look at!). There are so many ways to get creative right now, we just have to work around some safety logistics. Mental health is something we should all be thinking about right now, even if you’ve never had any concerns in the past, and this is a simple and enjoyable way to strengthen that each day 🙂
With all of that being said, I want everyone to set a travel goal for the next week – no matter how small – to get some fresh air, a new perspective, and maybe even discover a new favorite spot. I hope you’re all continuing to stay safe, and hopefully the worst of it will shortly be coming to an end. I have some exciting plans for future content in the next few weeks to mix things up a bit, so definitely stay posted and subscribe below to get updates directly from me! Best wishes, and I’ll see you all next week.
I’m finally home and back in the swing of things after my very long and much needed spring break! I flew in from West Palm last night, and I’m back at work bright and early this Morning getting things going. I had an amazing couple of trips over my break, between visiting family in Maine and spending lots of time in the Florida sun, so it’s only fair I get into all the good stuff with a new travel blog.
I’ve definitely missed writing about new travels since I returned from studying abroad, so I’m super excited to finally have some new content. In my post last Monday, I mentioned that I’d been spending some time somewhere warm. I flew into Florida on Monday and spent the week through Friday in Deerfield Beach. First of all, the weather throughout the week was beautiful, so it was the perfect week to just lie on the beach, read, and relax. While in Deerfield Beach I was alone, which I was a bit nervous about at first because while I loved my solo trip to Eastern Europe, by the end of it I was going crazy – but this week ended up to be the perfect amount of alone time! After the first day or two I got used to the fact that I was alone and actually really started to enjoy the quiet relaxation. I was able to cook for myself throughout the week which was great, and I caught up on so much work, rest, and TV shows!
I was about a mile and a half from the beach, which was perfect for my morning runs. I pretty much followed the same schedule every day, running to and from the beach before it got too hot, making myself breakfast and getting ready for the day, then heading back to the beach until late afternoon, when I’d head back and make a late lunch/early dinner and just hang out for the night. I definitely needed a low-key week to recharge after my busy week of exams before break, and I’m actually really glad I had this time to myself to do so.
By Friday, though, I was ready for some human interaction and a change of scenery, so this was the perfect time for my brother to join me. I headed back up to West Palm for the rest of the weekend where I ended up having to book an Airbnb last minute after I found out our hotel had a 21+ check in policy, but this actually turned out to be really nice. We had a great bedroom/bathroom set up with access to the backyard pool, grill, and fireplace, so I’m glad we ended up getting the privacy and comfort of a home rather than a hotel.
While I waited for my brother’s flight to get in I hung out by the pool, caught up on some homework, and took in the last of the sun I’d see for the week. He eventually got in around dinner time, so we quickly got ready and headed to dinner at ER Bradley’s Saloon, right by the harbor side of the water. After making myself vegetables for almost every dinner so far that week, it was amazing to have someone cook for me, and I finally got to have my fish tacos that I’d been waiting for. The food here was SO delicious, especially the bourbon-soaked banana bread I had for dessert.
Saturday was Kyle’s only full day in Palm Beach with me, and my last day overall, so we got an early start and hit the beach before it was even 9AM. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so great (much cloudier and windier, and therefore colder :(), so we didn’t last very long, but we’re definitely beach people so we had to at least spend some time there. By 11 we’d had enough of the sand blowing everywhere, so we walked back over the bridge to the mainland and got brunch at a restaurant right next to where we ate dinner the night before – Avocado Grill. Once again, I got fish tacos – a vacation must! Afterwards we found a huge farmers’ market just a block over, so we walked around here a bit before finally heading back to the beach one more time. We spent some of the afternoon here, and then eventually had to accept that the weather wasn’t great and head back to our Airbnb.
Kyle spent the afternoon in the pool while I (again) got some more work done, then we ended off our vacation with one of the best meals I’ve had to date. We decided to splurge for our last dinner, so we made a reservation at the Breakers Palm Beach Resort’s Italian Restaurant. We got to the resort early enough so we had some time to walk around and take pictures, and the whole environment was so amazing, I’d definitely love to go back. This whole area was right on the ocean side, so despite the wind and clouds, the views were amazing. Once we actually sat down to eat, the food was amazing as well. Everything from the complementary rolls to our bruschetta appetizer, to my shaved cauliflower salad and Kyle’s meat lasagna, all the way to his cheesecake and my s’mores pie dessert, was beyond delicious. This was the perfect way to end off our vacation!
Kyle had a very early flight home Sunday morning, and I left later in the afternoon, but now we’re both back in Boston and I’m very glad to be settled and back into my routine. This past week was so amazing and I loved every minute of my trip, but as much as I love traveling, I love coming home and getting my life back together just as much.
I’m so excited for the rest of the spring and summer, as I do have a few more trips in the works, as well as the new direction in which I’m hoping to expand my blog. Thank you all for following along, and please subscribe below to continue receiving content! Any feedback is greatly appreciated, and I’ll see you all next week 🙂
As promised, I’m back now with LOTS of new content now that I finally have some time to focus on my blog! As I transition into more lifestyle-centered posts in addition to my travel theme, I’m going to start off with a little bit of both in this post. I’ll be getting into my current favorites – everything I’m loving right now, from health products to books to social media – while also including some of my travel essentials – things I couldn’t live without on my trip this week!
First, I want to talk about what I’m reading right now. This is both a favorite and a travel essential – this is The Girls book series by Rachel Hollis. There are 3 books in this collection: Party Girl,Sweet Girl, and Smart Girl. I just finished Party Girl and am now starting Sweet Girl. I’m hoping to finish all three while on vacation this week, as they really are the perfect vacation books. I’ve already read Hollis’ other books, Girl, Stop Apologizing and Girl, Wash Your Face, which I highly recommend as well. These are all the kinds of books you can mindlessly read while relaxing (in my case on the beach!) and still get a lighthearted, feel good story.
Moving on from reading, I’ve also been catching up on my TV shows this week, and aside from my regulars like Grey’s Anatomy, This Is Us, and The Bachelor, I’ve started a couple of other new series as well. On my flight here, I started getting into Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, a three-part Netflix documentary series. I’d always been interested in this case and finally had the time to get into the documentary, and there is so much more going on than I thought – definitely a good series to get into, but one that you need to pay attention to while watching. Another show I picked up this week that I can’t stop watching is Netflix’s original reality show, The Circle. This is another one I’ve been wanting to watch for a while and I’ve heard so many good things about it, and I’m so glad I finally started watching! This one is definitely more laid back and I don’t have to pay too close attention, but it’s still such an interesting concept for a show and I’m getting more and more into it each episode.
One more TV favorite is another Netflix documentary – Miss Americana. This is Taylor Swift’s documentary which I just recently watched, and I would hands down recommend this to anyone, even if you aren’t a fan. I’ve always been a pretty big Taylor Swift fan, but even watching this documentary completely changed my perspective on her success and the changes she’s made throughout her career. Once again, there’s so much more to her story than we see on the outside, so I definitely think documentary is worth a watch.
Moving on, a few things I couldn’t travel without (besides these books and shows) include:
My 40 oz. (extra large!) HydroFlask – I drink SO much water, so having this on a long flight was necessary. It’s also been great to have with me throughout the week so I don’t have to use plastic, and have enough water to get me through a long beach day.
I’ve never been one to care too much about germs (except for your normal hand washing/sanitary norms), but this week I am not taking ANY chances in an airport, so I stocked up on Clorox wipes and Purell, which definitely made me feel better on my flight down.
In general, I always end up feeling kind of gross after flying, so keeping a pack of facial wipes with me (any simple cleansing wipes – I like micellar water wipes!) helps A LOT after landing!
Having enough good content downloaded for any flight is a necessity. I know I mentioned all of these new shows and movies I’ve been watching, but I also love listening to Podcasts when I get sick of music. For this flight I downloaded an episode of Gals on the Go Podcast and The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast – my two favorites!
Gum and snacks are always a must for me on planes, no matter how short the flight. On this trip, I brought a banana from home since it was early in the morning and I wasn’t too hungry yet, but usually I’ll buy a sandwich or some trail mix, and an iced coffee on shorter flights.
For now, that’s all I’m going to get into, but I’ll definitely be back soon with an update on my spring break trip (so far, doing great)! I’m very excited to expand more on my writing and get into more things I’m passionate about, so I hope you’re all on board 🙂
Let me know if there’s anything specific you want to hear from me, and subscribe below to stay updated when I post new content! Have a great rest of your week, and I’ll see you soon.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted – this past week has been crazy with exams and assignments, but I’m finally on spring break and have some time to catch up! I’m writing this from the airport right now before I head off for a week at the beach, so I just wanted to check in about where I’ve been and some upcoming things.
This past weekend I spent lots of time with family up by Old Orchard Beach in Maine, so I definitely got my cold fix in for the week. The rest of this week I’ll be spending somewhere warm, so look out for a post on that part of my trip sometime next week!
Obviously I am not traveling as much anymore as I was while I was studying abroad, so this blog has taken a turn to more advice and guide related posts. I would like to continue the “travel” theme of my website, but I also want to start writing more lifestyle content, as I have lots more to talk about! While I have some time off this week I’m going to start planning some new things for the future, so hopefully this blog can expand into something bigger than it is at the moment.
I am very passionate about travel, but there are other things I’ve become knowledgable about as well, so I want to start incorporating more aspects of my life into this page. I hope you’re all on board!
For now I must start boarding my flight, but I will definitely be back later this week and next with lots of content and exciting new stuff – see you later, and happy Monday!
I’m back this week with a very important (and very relevant) topic: solo travel. While studying abroad last semester, I knew I wanted to take at least one trip alone for a few reasons. First, I wanted to have a very productive and busy weekend, which was definitely easier to plan without having to coordinate a schedule with others. Also, there was a part of me that just wanted to prove to myself that I could plan and go on a trip entirely by myself. You might remember that this first solo trip was a long weekend of “backpacking” (it was only four days) through Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. I have another semi-solo trip coming up soon, so I thought I would share some of my tips with you all for solo travel, since it’s definitely something most people avoid!
Do your research! Your trip will be a lot more comfortable and less stressful if you plan where you’re staying, your transportation, activities, etc., in advance, so that you know you’ll have things to do and you’ll be safe while traveling. Look into the hotel, airbnb, etc., that you’re staying at to make sure it has good reviews, and try to get local recommendations from friends/family of things you can do/places you can visit.
Plan to be busy. Especially since you’ll be by yourself, it can get boring if you don’t have much to do. It might be an exhausting trip, but you’ll be much happier staying occupied than sitting around relaxing (for the most part!)
Pack a lock for your things – especially if you’re staying in a hostel or a more public residence. This will keep your things safe overnight, and will also be useful if you’re doing activities throughout the day and don’t want to carry everything around the whole time.
Plan your meals ahead of time! From my experience, breakfast and lunch are pretty easy to figure out, but it can definitely be weird eating dinner alone, so making sure you have somewhere to go will be helpful.
Plan dinner dates – going along with my previous point about eating meals alone, it can be nice to have a phone call or facetime date planned so you’re not really eating alone.
Figure out transportation ahead of time. You don’t want to get stuck without a ride home or to the airport, so research transportation options in the area you’re traveling ahead of time and see what’s available near you. Whether you need to book a taxi in advance, or confirm that Uber operates in your city, this will relieve lots of stress while traveling!
Be careful at night! Especially if you are a girl (unfortunately), be aware of your surroundings, and try to stay in groups/in public places if possible. Be responsible and try to avoid any potentially dangerous situation. While I was in Eastern Europe alone, I completely avoided any danger and simply stayed in after dinner (which helped me start my days earlier anyways!)
Keep track of important belongings, especially when you’re alone. In general, you should keep tabs on your phone, wallet, and passport, but when you’re by yourself, you don’t have a friend to fall back on if something happens to these. Keep them in a safe place and be careful of pickpockets!
Know where you’re going. Of course you won’t know exactly how to get everywhere you’re going, but having a general idea of landmarks and names of sights or restaurants can help in the case that your phone dies or you need to ask for directions. Quickly mapping out your day before you head out can help a lot.
Meet new (or old) friends! Lots of people are trying solo travel nowadays, so it’s likely you’re not the only one where you’re going who is alone. Especially if you’re staying in a hostel or similar residence, there are always lots of young people who you can hang out with. Similarly, if you know someone who lives in the area you’re visiting, plan to catch up!
Personally, I think everyone should try solo travel at least once while they’re young, because even though it can be scary/uncomfortable, it’s definitely a great learning experience and truly shows you how independent you can be. Not only that, but if there’s somewhere you really want to explore and can’t seem to get a group to go, this is a great way to completely design your own schedule and your own trip so that you can accomplish everything you’ve been wanting to.
During my first trip alone, I learned the hard way that I really don’t like being alone. That being said, I wouldn’t change anything about the experience, because in the end I had a great weekend and it made me more comfortable doing things on my own. I packed so much into those four days which I don’t think I would’ve been able to do otherwise, and I’m now looking forward to planning more solo trips so that I can enjoy traveling alone.
I hope these tips are helpful and that this encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone when it comes to traveling. I’m excited to finally be taking a couple more trips soon, so I’ll have some new content for you in the future. Subscribe below to come along with me, and I’ll see you all next week!
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It’s now been just over a week since I’ve returned to the States from my four months abroad, and it’s definitely been a crazy transition back to normal life. I’ve been going back and forth the past few weeks between being excited to come home, and not wanting to leave the best and craziest four months of my life. I’m finally beginning to adjust to the time difference, the food changes, and the much slower lifestyle I have here, and it’s been nice to settle in a bit more over the holidays. That being said, I would give anything to go back to Spain and keep living the abroad lifestyle I’d grown to love.
Along with this public blog, I’ve been keeping a personal travel journal throughout the semester to remember my weeks and my trips myself, and to go deeper into how this whole experience has affected me. I hadn’t read back any of my journal entries until last night, and reading through the entire semester at once was definitely enough to make me miss all of the early flights, travel mishaps, and times spent with friends in places I’d never thought I would visit. I want to share a few of my favorite thoughts and memories from this journal:
“When we arrived last Monday I was a little overwhelmed and didn’t quite know what to think of my new home, but now that I’m settled I can definitely see myself falling in love with this place.” – 9.1.2019, first week in Madrid
“I know the next four months will fly by, but I’m so excited for all of the adventures we’re going to take and all we’re going to learn.” – 9.1.2019, first week in Madrid
“To sum up our day trip in Salamanca, we spent the night.” – 9.8.2019, after being stranded in Salamanca, Spain
“Even though I barely have school here and being in Europe is so much fun, it was really nice to have a real beach vacation with nothing to do but relax in the sand. We also have such a good group of people, so I’m really excited to travel with everyone again this weekend.” – 9.15.2019, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
“Saturday was a BIG day. We ate breakfast in Nice, France. Then we got all dressed up and headed to country #2 of the day: Monaco where I gambled in the Casino de Monte Carlo. The day still gets crazier. Dinner? We wanted pasta. So we went to Italy.” – 9.21.2019, our day of 3 countries in the French Riviera
“The more I travel, the more Madrid feels like home, and the more I realize how lucky I am to feel that.” – 9.23.2019, returning to Madrid from Nice, France
“This was probably one of my favorite days abroad – the whole environment was so electric, I ran into so many friends, and the experience itself is something you just can’t miss out on.” – 9.28.2019, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
“This was one of those memories that you know is more special than words or photos can describe, even while living it. I hope for many more experiences, connections, and nights like this, for these are the ones that will change you, and that will last a lifetime.” – 10.6.2019, after a dance party in a mountain village of Morocco
“Standing on the Charles Bridge and looking around, it all fell into place. The beauty of the river, the architecture of the buildings, the colorful foliage, the bands playing music, and the children dancing – it hit me just how lucky I am to be here, and how peaceful and empowering this alone time has been.” – 10.10.2019, day 1 of my solo backpacking trip in Prague, Czechia
“You are so aware of how high up you are, standing out on tiny ledges and bridges. I could see the river stretch out in both directions, the top of the Gellert Hill I had just climbed in the distance, and the entire Pest side of the city.” – 10.12.2019, day 3 of my solo backpacking trip in Budapest, Hungary
“It truly hit me that night that I’m meant to be in Madrid right now, and this group of people is meant to be my family.” – 10.13.2019, returning to Madrid after a long weekend backpacking along
“Finally having a visitor and getting to show her what my life is like here was so special. And, after hearing reviews of Lisbon, I’m so glad we chose Porto!” – 10.26.2019, Porto, Portugal with my mom
“This was definitely my favorite part of the weekend – great views with great people.” – 11.1.2019, watching the sunset from the Carmel Bunkers in Barcelona, Spain (the highest point in the city)
“This was a much needed trip for lots of reasons: warmer weather, relaxing, change of scenery, and I’m really glad to have had that as the semester winds down. Being with 30 other people who were strangers 3 months ago and now are some of my closest friends, sitting on a beach in the south of freaking Spain, watching the sunset with absolutely zero responsibility, was so beautiful and magical.” – 11.9.2019, class trip to Málaga, Spain (in Andalucía)
“Standing on a bridge in Paris, France, watching the Eiffel Tower light up at night is something so unbelievably special, I still can’t believe I was there.” – 11.14.2019, Paris, France
“From the second I arrived in Amsterdam, I knew I was going to fall in love with the city.” – 11.15.2019, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
“I really liked spending genuine time with everyone and I’m getting very appreciative of all the connections I’ve made here.” – 11.30.2019, Rome, Italy
“It’s now December, which is so crazy to think about – I have less than 3 weeks left here.” – 12.1.2019, returning to Madrid from Rome, Italy
“I will definitely enjoy the break from flying every weekend, but I’ll always miss how spontaneous, careless, and excitingly special these past four months have been.” – 12.7.2019, returning from my final trip to Copenhagen, Denmark
While living through these four months, although I tried, it was hard to truly take in all that I was doing and realize how incredible it was. After a few weeks, the flights every weekend to new cities and new countries became routine, and it was harder to value living in Europe as much as I would’ve liked. Now, looking back on it all, it’s hitting me just how crazy these past four months have been, and how lucky I am to have experienced all that I did.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “abroad changed me,” as many people do, though I definitely think it helped me grow as a person, and it taught me so much about life and how valuable its experiences are. I know see travel as a fairly easy way to learn and explore, rather than an expensive luxury, or a once-a-year thing. I now take fuller advantage of my free time and want to maximize the time that I do have while I’m young to do and learn as much as a can, whether that’s here in Boston or all around the world. Most importantly, I made lifelong friends who now seem more like family, and I already miss though we left just ten days ago.
It’s weird for me to be wrapping up abroad like this, because I can’t completely believe or admit that the whole thing is over, but somehow it’s not August anymore, and instead of telling everyone that I’m going abroad, I now have to say “I went abroad.” Even though I’m sad that it’s now all in the past, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my four months, and I’m looking forward to everything that’s to come out of this semester and what I’ve learned.
I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about studying abroad to do it – like I said, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about my time in Spain, and I can honestly say these have been the best four months of my life. I know this is not the end of my travels, I have so much more I want to see in the world! But, for now I need to be in Boston for a bit, and as much as I miss Madrid, Boston will always be “home” for me.
Thank you all for following along with me these past four months, it has been such a pleasure sharing these photos, stories, and experiences with you! I will continue posting as I travel more, along with some tips and tricks I learned while traveling through Europe. For some highlights of the semester, I’ve posted my final abroad video below, I hope you enjoy 🙂
Welcome back! It’s definitely been a while, but I’ve been spending lots of time in Madrid recently and taking some time off from traveling every weekend. I spent Thanksgiving here last Thursday with my entire program, who put on an amazing dinner for us all. Even though I couldn’t be at home for the holiday, it was nice to spend it with so many special people in Spain.
The following day we had a very quick turnaround – early Friday morning we flew out to Rome! I’d only been to Italy for one dinner before back in September, so this was really exciting. We spent lots of time deciding which city we should visit, since there’s really so much to do in Italy, but Rome seemed like the best weekend option.
When we landed Friday morning, we first made our way to breakfast. We walked up the Spanish steps, and then found our way to a small cafe where we had spinach and mozzarella sandwiches. We had some time before checking into our apartment, so we walked around the area we were staying in, visiting the Pantheon as well. I studied Latin all four years of high school, so I spend LOTS of time studying Ancient Rome. Therefore, seeing all of these sites and monuments in real life was so interesting for me.
After checking in that afternoon, we decided to spend the rest of the day in the Vatican City. Even just walking around outside in the city was so beautiful, and they were setting up Christmas decorations which made it even more special. Walking through the Sistine Chapel as well was amazing. This is definitely one of the most intricate and beautiful things I’ve seen so far, for every wall is lined with famous artwork and designing, and it all tells a story. I am so glad I was able to experience this place, and I would highly suggest a visit here at some point.
For dinner that night, we went to a very small, intimate restaurant which our renter recommended to us. I had spaghetti with a pepper and cheese sauce, and it was by far one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Italy definitely knows how to make pasta! We spent the rest of the night trying a couple different bars in the area as well, as Rome has a much more relaxed nightlife scene.
Saturday was our second and final full day in Rome, so we made sure to hit all of the rest of the city’s sites. We started at the Colosseum, which was probably my favorite part of the weekend. Not only had I studied this in SO much depth in high school, but the structure itself is so immense and breathtaking (it’s one of the seven wonders of the world!). By now we were all starving, so we found a local pizza shop and had a little picnic outside. I don’t know if it was the fact that we were in Italy, or just that I was so hungry, but this pizza was amazing!
After lunch we headed back toward the Colosseum to explore the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Everything we saw here was straight out of my high school Latin textbook, so I had another wave of excitement. There was so much history to see in the Forum, and all of it was preserved so incredibly.
Once the sun began to set, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain to toss in some coins and make a wish. We shopped around this area for a bit, and then got ready for another pasta dinner. This time I got fettuccine with pesto, and this was definitely my favorite meal of the weekend! We explored another bar that night (Scholars’ Irish Pub), which was so much fun, and then went home before we had to catch our Sunday morning flight home.
This weekend was for sure a quick one, but I’m so glad we were able to see such a beautiful city. The weather was great, and I was with so many close friends, so it turned out to be one of my favorite trips of abroad. Now that I only have a few weeks left, the traveling is starting to slow down while the school work is picking up (today is my last day of school before finals!). I have one more trip planned this upcoming weekend, and then after that my next flight will be back to Boston!
I hope you’ve all been enjoying my weekly updates, and I hope to keep this going in some form or another once I’m back in the States! Please subscribe below to be notified of new content, and I’ll see you all next week 🙂
This past weekend was definitely an ambitious one, but it was definitely my favorite so far. We had been mostly traveling to more uncommon cities so far, with a few exceptions, but this weekend we finally hit some of the major “abroad” destinations. On Thursday we started out in Paris, France, and then on Friday we made our way to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to like Paris too much, because I had heard it wasn’t the nicest or friendliest city, and it was very touristy. So, I went into that leg of the trip with rather low expectations. I was completely wrong. In the one day I spent in Paris, I saw so much more that I thought I would, and the city completely surprised me. We got crepes, visited the Sainte Chapelle (so beautiful!), the Louvre Museum, and the Arc de Triomphe. From there, we finally made our way to the Eiffel Tower. This was much bigger than I expected, and was really amazing to see. As we were leaving, the sun was setting so they began to turn on the tower’s lights. Seeing the entire Eiffel Tower light up was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve seen abroad so far.
After a break at our hostel, we ended up going back to the Eiffel Tower to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant. Every hour, the tower’s lights twinkle for about five minutes, so we were able to see this before we ate dinner. Standing on a bridge in the middle of Paris, watching the Eiffel Tower light up, was one of those moments that you know is so special, even as it’s happening, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be back to see that again, but I feel so lucky that I was able to experience it this week. In the end, I’m glad I went into Paris with low expectations, because it only continued to pleasantly surprise me, and I ended up loving a city which I didn’t even plan on visiting.
Friday morning was an early wake up, as I had to catch my bus to Amsterdam. What was supposed to be a six-hour drive turned out to be eight, so by the time I reached Amsterdam, I was ready to walk around. From the minute I stepped off the bus, I noticed how charming and cozy the city was, with restaurants and shops lining the streets, and Christmas lights strung everywhere. I reached the apartment we were staying in, which overlooked one of Amsterdam’s many canals. Sitting in the warmth on the couch looking out at the lights over the cold water felt like the holiday season, and made the weekend even more relaxing and homey.
We didn’t have too much time on Friday since we got in later in the afternoon, so once we were settled we headed out for an amazing pasta dinner at Spaghetteria, and then explored some of the bars and plazas open in Amsterdam at night. Again, seeing all of the Christmas lights everywhere, and everyone so bundled up in the cold, got me SO excited for the holidays.
Saturday was the only full day we had in the city, so we packed everything in. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get tickets to the Anne Frank House (they sell out really fast, so buy them FAR in advance!), so we started our day with a delicious pancake breakfast at De Carrousel Pannenkoeken. From here, we toured the Heineken Museum, as we had previously bought tickets for the “Heineken Experience”. Going into this, we expected a normal museum tour, explaining the history of Heineken, with a tasting at the end. We were completely surprised to find an entirely interactive experience, with films and music and lights and games, ending in a Heineken bar. I am definitely not a beer person, but the whole experience was so cool, I would definitely recommend the tour if you are even in Amsterdam.
After leaving the museum and getting a quick snack of stroopwafels, we made our way to the canal tour we had booked. I suggest touring the canals both by foot and by boat, because first of all, they’re so beautiful and you can never see enough, but also, you get a much different point of view passing through the streets in the water, and you get to see so many cool bridges and corners and pathways while relaxing on the back of a boat.
For the rest of our day, we walked around to hit some more sights while it was still light out. We passed by the outside of the Anne Frank House, we visited Dam Square and tasted lots of cheese, and walked by the Centraal Station of Amsterdam. Eventually we made our way to Casa di David for another delicious pasta dinner (we don’t get pasta in Spain), and then explored some more bars, including my favorite which had live jazz music.
We flew out early Sunday morning, so I had the day to catch up in Madrid. Again, I’m not sure how we fit Amsterdam into pretty much one day, but I definitely could have spent a lot more time there. This city felt so different from everywhere else I’ve traveled, and I think that’s why I loved it so much. It was definitely the right time of year to visit, with all of the holiday decorations out and the cold air, and even though it’s a pretty big city, it had such a personal, small town feel – I could definitely see myself spending a longer period of time here. It also felt like a much younger city, with lots of students and young families, where Paris had an older, more traditional feel. I will surely be returning to Amsterdam at some point while still in my twenties, hopefully for a few months so I can really enjoy the city.
The semester is finally beginning to slow down, so I will be staying in Madrid this weekend, and then only traveling a couple more times after that. I’ve been seeing and learning so much while abroad so far, and it’s crazy that I only have a few more weeks, but I’m excited to continue exploring Europe in this last month, and even after I return to the US.
I hope you’ve been enjoying my weekly updates, and I can’t wait to share more!
This past weekend was another one spent in Spain, and for once we didn’t have to fly anywhere – a break from the airport was definitely needed! We started out in Málaga on a trip with our study abroad program, and then headed west to Sevilla. Both are cities in the southern region of Andalucía, so it was also nice to have some warmer weather for the weekend.
In Málaga we started off with a quick walking tour around the city, where we visited the Atarazanas food market, the Cathedral, and the Plaza de la Constitución. After a tapas lunch, we then explored the Picasso Museum – he is from Málaga, so a lot of his history and artwork is represented here! We then walked through the Alcazaba, Málaga’s medieval Moorish palace, which overlooked the ocean and was a great way to end our tour.
We had some free time to explore, so we all spent some time sitting on the beach as the sun set. Since Málaga is a much smaller coast city, the beach was so calm and so peaceful. Once it grew dark, our whole program drove over to a dance studio (which happens to be where Antonio Banderas rehearses) for a flamenco class. All I can say is that I now have a new respect for flamenco dancers – this was one of the hardest things I’ve tried to learn!
Saturday morning we started with a huge hotel breakfast and then walked back toward the beach to the Centre Pompidou, a branch of Paris’ contemporary art museum. The art we saw here was definitely different from what we’ve been studying so far, as it was much more modern and utopian. From here, we walked along the coast to a beachfront restaurant where we ended this leg of the trip with an amazing paella lunch.
Most of the program was heading back to Madrid that evening, but while we were already in the south of Spain, my friends and I decided to go to Sevilla for the rest of the weekend. We arrived by train around 7pm, so after checking into our hostel, we immediately found dinner and began to explore the city at night. We were very centrally located, so it was super easy to get around and see the nightlife of Sevilla in the short time we had.
Sunday morning we had to pack in all of our sightseeing, as we were leaving for Madrid at 4pm that day. We started off at the Catedral de Sevilla, which was so beautiful, but since it was Sunday and mass was going on, we were unable to climb up the tower. We also walked by the Royal Alcázar of Sevilla, but the line was so long and we didn’t have tons of time, so we weren’t able to go inside here either. We ended up taking a bus tour through the city for the rest of the day, so we were able to see most major sights in time for our bus ride home.
We spent some time at the Plaza de España, which was one of the largest and most extravagant plazas I’ve seen in Spain so far. We walked around a bit more by the Metropol Parasol, got some lunch and gelato, and then made our way to the bus station for our 6 hour drive back to Madrid.
This weekend was much more relaxed than past trips, so it was really nice to take a break and have more time in Spain. It was also fun to travel with the whole program, since we don’t see everyone else as often. Overall, Sevilla is one of my favorite cities that I’ve traveled to so far, so I’m glad we were able to squeeze that in after our Málaga trip. This upcoming weekend will be VERY busy, so having a weekend to relax was definitely good beforehand.
I’m looking forward to my last month and a half here, so please stay updated for my final adventures! Subscribe below to get email updates when I post new content 🙂