So, If I decided to write a post about my spring break, it would probably take as long as my vacation to write it. And let me tell you, this “break” was no vacation but a marathon of traveling. Let me paint a picture: 6 countries in 11 days. That old adage there is no sleep for the weary or wicked is true. There is no sleep (or rest) for the student traveler. Nevermind, that wherever I went, the rain came too.
That said, my immune system suffered dearly.
So, I have decided to sum my experience up for you with two photos from each city.
Prague, Czech Republic
Highlight: Easter Market in Old Town and Public Works of “Art”
Highlight: The Holocaust Memorial almost brought me to tears, and the Doner Kebab
Highlight: Van Gogh Museum, the Heinken Experience Canal Cruise, The Atmosphere and STROOPWAFEL
Highlight: With only three short hours, it would have to be the strawberry and banana waffle with warm chocolate drizzled over it. It was devoured before I remembered to take a photo.
Highlight: I return to the city of lights! Loved the Musee d’Orsay- filled with impressionist masterpieces by Claude Monet and spectacular sculptures, Versailles, and of course, the Macaroons from Laduree!
So what was my favorite city? It’s a toss up. But, I would have to say Amsterdam because it is like nothing I have ever seen before. It’s like an adult fantasyland with idyllic homes and calming canals while all sorts of debauchery and fun are encouraged. Where else in the world can you hit up a coffee shop then indulge in the secrets of the red light district? No where.
But please, I wish Spring Break 2015 never came to an end. It was long and short at the same time. An exhausting whirlwind of new experiences. I loved every minute of it!
Now, I have returned to the grind, with finals week and my return home rapidly approaching the horizon. Oh my!
Thought it was time to catch you up to speed on my latest Eurotrip adventure. I just finished watching the new E show, the Royals, and I loved seeing the shots of the London Eye and Big Ben, places I was just at! Let’s just say I’m hooked. Definitely a more enhanced Gossip Girl of the ELITE. I’m already waiting for next Monday afternoon so I can stream this indulgent distraction. I digress.
Mom and I arrive in London. It’s all sunshine and rainbows for the most part, until it’s time to find our hotel. We walk right past it since it doesn’t have good signage. Seriously. it was hidden under a valet area and completely unseen from the street. We would have kept walking if it wasn’t for a bloke (english for man) walking by the river, the Thames, who was actually staying at the hotel. Hotel’s nice, and by nice, I mean, I like the lobby… not the random skateboarding figurine being passed off as art next to the minifridge. Beds were not as plush as Paris and it wasn’t as centrally located, but I had a nice view of other rooms with scaffolding above my head. Basically, the hotel was under construction but they gave cookies with the tea and slippers, so that was a plus.
Friday was my mommy’s birthday! We start off the day with a hop on-hop off tour for some sights. I really just wanted a bagel, but we had Italian instead near Picaddilly Circus at a place with Italian small plates as it neared early afternoon. Apparently that’s a thing. “Italian Tapas.” Had great atmosphere, loved my gnocchi. Afterward, we went to the half price ticket outlet in Lecester Square for tickets to see Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which is about 4 women in madrid who are having some sort of midlife crisis. Quite entertaining. I don’t think it’s going to become some big sensation, especially since the understudy was better than the rest of the cast, but also, she just had a more fun part. Before the show, we dashed over to Tate Modern Art, which confused me rather than awed me. I just wasn’t feeling it, and wish that I had left more time for the Globe and my man Shakespeare. I missed the entrance to the museum by like 5 minutes, never able to return….but I got a photo in front of the Globe. I always attribute my middle school drama teacher Ms. Kendrick back to my obsession with Shakespeare and the Globe, probably because she kept a little figurine of the famous playwright on a bookshelf, and we all joked that he was her boyfriend. Saturday we woke up early by my standards to catch a changing of the guard’s walking tour. We got to march alongside the guards to Buckingham Palace. We didn’t really see guards change place or get too close to the palace since it was absolutely mobbed, but it was a really vibrant atmosphere getting to witness a part of British customs.Interestingly enough, our tour guide said that they do the changing of the guards more as an aspect of tourism rather than a necessity or official protocol.
After, we planned to head to Hyde Park and Kensington Palace with a detour at Harrods. Harrods can only be described as a magical maze of retail goodness. I found my calling in the evening wear collection and my heart in Shoe Heaven. I have officially decided that Ted Baker and Kate Spade are my world favorite and those collections can do no wrong after wafting through this shopping mecca. For lunch, we ate at one of the many restaurants inside such as champagne bar, gelado, morrocan place, disney inspired, laduree, burger joint… the list is endless. We stuck with pizza because we thought, how expensive can pizza be? We were wrong. But the chef swung around the bar area tossing dough and singing Italian songs, so that kind of made it worth it?? For my harrods souvenir, I settled on the cutest little Ted Baker ID card holder. Although Ted Baker can be found at Bloomies and Von Maur in the states, no one has the same selection and sizes available. Therefore, you can easily understand that I wanted everything, but settled for what my wallet found appropriate. We took the hop on hop off bus to kensington palace only to realize we didn’t have enough time to tour the palace if we wanted to try to get the the Book of Mormon rush tickets for $20. We ran back to Picadilly Circus with a fare amount of time to spare to enter the drawing. I wanted to see Book of Mormon so badly; it’s been my number one must-see for years, but ticket prices never go down. I had been feeling so helpful, but as the 11 pairs were drawn, my name was not called. Interestingly enough, no one from the state’s name were called, which was kind of discouraging. I was in a mood after because I had my hopes up. My mom wanted to see Beautiful, the Carole King Musical but I was in one of those, if I can’t see the Book of Mormon, I don’t want to see anything else kind of moods. So, we went shopping. And discovered PRIMARK. Basically walmart prices meet Forever 21 selection but for kids, men and household items too. I had a field day buying unnecessary items like hot pink scalloped shorts, a laser cut black blazer, METALLIC TATTOOS, and a trendy backpack. I also got jeans for 7 pounds. I have seriously never heard of such a thing. I found out that Primark has locations in Barcelona and opening one in the Dirty Jerz, so I will be BACK! After Primark, we were so bloody tired, and I didn’t know where to go, so we stopped in McDonalds. It seemed like there were no restaurants around, and mom and I were so fatigued, I ended up eating Mcdonalds. and I hate McDonalds. Why couldn’t it be chipotle?
On Sunday we feel like we were slacking in what we wanted to see, so it’s a whirlwind. I FINALLY GET MY BAGEL. At the Waterloo train station. It wasn’t as good as back home but it will suffice. Then, we pranced our way to the London Eye which was so cool! I just wish it was a little more clear outside, but for the most part we had pretty good weather in Barcelona. Then we finally made it to Kensington Palace, hoping to catch a glimpse of Kate or Prince George.
The palace was gorgeous. Simple on the outside, magnificent on the inside. It was interesting to see the King and Queen’s quarters and how they had the exact same equal layout. I wish that I could remember which monarch they were built for, but it was for when the king and queen shared equal power.
Overall, an amazing trip, until we got so wrapped up in life that we missed our plane’s check in time by mere minutes. I would go into that story but it involves lots of hysterics and money. Obviously, I made it home though. Just in time for my photography class that proved useless that day.
And I didn’t get my postcard. AND YOU KNOW, IF I DON’T GET MY POSTCARD, IT MEANS I NEED TO GO BACK, JUST TO GET MY SIGNATURE MOMENTO!!!!!
Observations about London:
Theater is a huge part of the city ( West End). You see theaters everywhere
Paris is for lovers. Scratch that. Paris is for rich people. Nothing in that city is affordable. I guess, I can’t expect the fashion capital of the world to be inexpensive. But, fashion of the capital of the world did Paris prove. And beautiful. Now, the real story of interest is our mode of transportation to France. My mother came to visit me for almost 2 weeks as a part of birthday celebration for me and her. We are both pisces, and somehow the same person. She decided I should experience traveling on a train. So we took the Renfe from Barcelona-Sants to a station just inside France. It was comfortable. It had a dining car; we were given headphones, and it even had charging ports. I could deal with this. We had a 45 minute wait at this station until our train to Paris came. At 8:45, an old, dilapidated sleeper train comes barreling through the track and the people go running to it. Apparently, this is our train to Paris. We spend a few minutes trying to figure out where we are going. When we find out “First Class Cabin,” we find ourselves sharing 2 bunk beds with 2 grown (smelly) men who don’t speak English. Even more, they want to go to sleep the second the train goes and there are no personal lights, or they just don’t work in our little cabin. Anyways, we do not want to go to sleep that early in the night. The train starts to roll and the train is really quiet. Everyone is tucked away in their little rooms. Only my mom and I want to explore/ find a way to change rooms. We slither our way to the Second Class Cabin (6 people squeezed into the smallest room ever to sleep) where we find a ticket taker. We explain the situation and the lady is surprised to hear that we’ve been placed in a cabin with men who we are not related to! She finds a way for us to get a new cabin, and lucky for us, we get another cabin in the same car all to ourselves. We spend the evening sipping wine from water bottles and talking about what we want to do when we get to Paris. I have a restless sleep on the train that arrives in Paris at 7:23 a.m. I spend the night looking out at the darkness, watching flashes of light pass by as we go through many different towns. Everything in Paris was very spontaneous. We both had lists of the places we wanted to visit, but didn’t do such a good job of planning everything out. After some issues finding our hotel, a Holiday Inn, we are allowed to check in hours before normal. They had a room available for us, which we were not expecting. The beds were so comfortable, I kind of fell asleep for a bit, so we didn’t start our day until around 11 am. Oops! Not sure where to go, we asked the concierge where she suggested we go. She recommended the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmarte (Sacre-Coeur) for it’s sweeping views of the city. We spend a little bit of time there before wandering the streets around it for a place to eat, as neither of us had eaten since boarding the train Thursday afternoon. We ended up eating crepes. I decided to try and be adventurous and try a flambeed-crepe with apple brandy. This is where I should stop trying to be cool and just eat a normal crepe with banana and nutella like the rest of the world.
For the afternoon, we hung around the Arc de Triomphe- a very impressive structure and enjoyed some more sweeping views up top. Afterwards, we decided to walk around the famous Champs-Elysee street known for its high end retail where we visited the first Louis Vuitton flagship. Never have I had to wait in line to get into a store, but I did for LV. The store was buzzing, and everything felt much more approachable in the store than when I’ve stepped inside other locations, feeling out of place and targeted in a store with more employees than customers. After I planted the idea of getting a Louis Vuitton in my mother’s mind, she played with the idea because it’s apparently cheaper to but it in Europe, but for the record, as of now, there is no Louis Vuitton monogram in my possession. Sigh. A girl can dream, right?
Somehow the day started to slip away and we rushed to the Eiffel Tower where a long line awaited us. We came from the metro station and missed out on those beautiful park photos because we came from the river side. Kind of bummed because the sun started to go down so quickly. I was going to settle for sunset photos from the top, but that didn’t happen either. It was cold and windy at the very top of the tower, but definitely a wonderful experience-seeing Paris again from that aerial view. By now it was around 8 p.m. and we were exhausted. We tried to head back to the hotel but got lost on the way from the metro to the hotel. So I wasted 7 euros on a 3 minute cab ride. life, #amiright? After the frustration of trying to find the hotel, we stuck close and ended up at this wine bar place minutes before happy hour ended. So I ordered a “sex on the beach” my staple, apparently and chicken and MASHED POTATOES! I think I ordered the meal for the potatoes. Nope, I definitely ordered the meal for the potatoes. Saturday was dedicated to the Lourve and SHOPPING. When the Turner girls travel, they must devote a large chunk of time to shopping. Again, like the Vatican, the Lourve is very impressive. Just rooms and long alley ways of artwork. After a while, it all looked the same. Romantic art seems to do that. Yet, I would like to inquire about booking the Lourve’s Italian section for my wedding ceremony for the world’s longest alley way. Also, I took a selfie with Mona. We are on a first name basis like I’m on a last name basis with Da Vinci! Next to the king/queen of department stores: Galleries Lafayatte. 7 floors of designer heaven. Some of the designer stations were roped off to limit the amount of people there at the same time. Also, the shoes covered an entire floor. Don’t get me started about the shoes. My mother decided she wanted to buy a purse in Paris for the shear reason of saying, I got it in Paris. Well, let me tell you… nothing in that store is meant for the normal person. (I’m looking at you 20,000 euro Celine Bag). Some of these items make the Louis Vuitton Purses look inexpensive. So finding an affordable, Paris based purse was task. I found a wallet that I liked by this brand called Lancaster, and decided to use some birthday money I received to purchase it since it was relatively affordable. Well, this was really the only brand in the store with affordable prices, so naturally my mother decided to purchase a bag from their limited collection. I don’t know how much she actually loved the purse rather than wanted to have a nice item from Paris. Only how often she carries the purse will tell. also for the most important part, ANTHROPOLOGIE IS COMING TO THE STORE AS OF MARCH 9! I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK AND BUY SOMETHING THERE OVER SPRING BREAK, I’VE BEEN DEPRIVED OF MY FAVORITE STORE! When the store closed at 8, we dashed off to our dinner reservation at a Fondue place called Chalet Savoyard. Who knew cheese and bread could be so filling! IT was delish! Sunday, our last day, was a whirlwind! We started off the day with brunch at the place I had been pining to go all weekend for Macaroons: LaDuree. I indulged in the sweetest french toast with rose, yes, rose flavored whipped cream and a berry sauce. Seeing how expensive everything was, made me think twice about the macaroons. I told myself that if at the end of the day I still wanted to buy the overpriced macaroons, I would come back. and yes i did….. After breakfast, we went to see the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. The stained glass was my favorite part of this gothic style building and it was interesting to see the progression of how it was built over almost a millennium. We then metro-ed to the Centre Pompidou, a wacky modern art museum that was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for something kind of off the typical tourist places. I loved the Jeff Koons exhibit. He had a diverse collection using childlike elements like giant balloon animals made out of aluminum to erotic art and advertisements. Finally, in need of some last minute shopping, we walked around the Marais Jewish Quarter where the stores were open on Sundays. Again, these weren’t affordable stores but expensive brand locations such as Karl Lagerfield and Maje. I bought some awesome teal snakeskin platform flats at this Paris store called Mellow Yellow. So cute! too bad they gave me a blister the first time I wore them… but hey… fashion is pain, baby. I loved my trip to Paris, and I can’t wait to go back! Thanks mom for taking me! xoxo Observations about France:
They make you pay to use public restrooms, even at the train station
They don’t really believe in escalators for the metro station
Window displays are a thing- not like in Spain where everything is shuttered
The men and women are impeccably dressed
People were for the most part, extremely friendly! Ignore the rumors for the most part about the French hating Americans
Asian tourists, everywhere! And THEY spend the big bucks!
No security really anywhere except occasionally soldiers carrying assault weapons. That was intimidating.
Have you missed me? I’m sorry I haven’t updated in a while, I’ve been preoccupied with life. But now, I have found a moment to stop, drop, and breathe. This post may or may not have taken a month to compose….
I thought I would recap on my trip to Rome to visit my sorority sister, Anne, and you know, explore ROMA!
So without further delay,
MY TRIP TO ROME.
Thursday night had a dramatic beginning and ending, I guess you could say. After lugging my duffel with my all day, I get to the airport, and my flight is delayed two hours. So I rushed there, breezed through security only to see my flight was delayed. While every single other flight was ONTIME!
A little peeved, I messaged Anne telling her my flight was delayed and tried to give her a new ETA. While waiting, I realized that I didn’t have some “stamp” on my boarding pass giving me the green light to board. Apparently you need it if you are not from the EU and flying RyanAir. After tracking down a RyanAir employee, she told me I had to exit through baggage, go back to check-in, go to a specific RyanAir Ticket Office, get my sign formed and go through security AGAIN. Good thing security is lax in Europe. This was a bother.
Boarding took FIVEever. As you can tell, I was already peeved with RyanAir. Luckily they didn’t weigh my suitcase though, that would have made everything slower. Nevermind the neon yellow (TACKY) and worn out navy seats of the plane, the lights were turned out for a total of 5 minutes during the night time flight, and people were just loud. Hasn’t anyone heard of airplane etiquette? There was just this constant buzz of talking. Anyways, I landed around 11 p.m. So relieved to be in Rome, I bolted from the plane and out to the arrivals in search of Anne.
Yet, I get out, and I wait, and no Anne.
AND just my luck, my phone will not connect to the wifi even though my wellbeing depended on it. I was being bombarded by taxi drivers asking if I needed a ride. After about half an hour, I started asking strangers if I could use their phone for facebook. I was instantly able to reach Anne, but she wasn’t at the airport. She missed the last train to the airport since those apparently stopped running at 10, but said something about Termini and it would cost about 50 euros to get there.
I had no idea what Termini is, but I was able to share a ride with a very petite Asian women and her Irish boyfriend who were staying at a hotel nearby the station (weird match right? but hey! love is love!)
So I got dropped off at Termini, which is basically the Grand Central Station of Rome only to realize how humungus the property was. I walked in the ticket area and it was deserted. Again, men asking me if I needed a taxi.
I crossed the street to a McDonalds in an attempt to use their wifi. It was the MOST COMPLICATED THING OF MY LIFE AND WOULD NOT WORK. I was starting to panic as 1 am loomed closer, lost in a city with essentially nothing to communicate with and a heavy bag on my shoulder. I decided to look at the premises again, and there by the adjacent bus station was ANNE. There were tears of sheer panic turned to joy when I found Anne. We then promptly hopped in a cab that had a base fair of 6 Euros. 6 EUROS. That’s like a meal- just to enter the damn taxi.
But, we are reunited, and all is well.
Anne takes me to her favorite coffee shop near her apartment in Trastevere where we have a cappuccino and a pastry. We spend the day roming Roma. First stop- The Roman Forum and Palatine, which is the site of the Roman Ruins.
Very interesting being on an ancient site of the city with some beautiful views included.
And then it started raining……. But we didn’t let that stop us, and continued on, umbrella’s up!
After the Forum, Anne and I stopped for my first Italian pizza (and wifi) nearby before heading to the COLISEUM! ( I may have spelled that wrong….. )
Note for those who visit in the future. The line to get into the Coliseum is very very long. your ticket also gets you into the Roman Forum so buy it at the Roman Forum first which isn’t nearly as busy! It will save you lots of time so you can actually see Rome in a day!
For dinner we hit up this amazing Italian restaurant with Anne’s 5 roommates called Old Bear. I indulged in THE BEST Gnocchi! My new favorite dish! Afterwards, we were ready for a night on the town. Anne took me to an Irish pub called the Drunken Ship where all the study abroad students hung out.
Apparently, it was THE place to be because it was crowded, and it was ladies’ night. 🙂 I loved it, until the following Wednesday when my friend in my photography class who I found in Rome (at a different bar) with a busted lip and other injuries. Some Italians decided to try and mug him outside the drunken ship the night after I was there, so that’s a super scary thought.
Day of the Vatican, or should I say, the never ending museum. I thought the Vatican would be a testament to all things Catholic and the history of Catholicism. Rather, it was a series of art galleries acquired by all the Popes over the years. There were sculpture gardens, frescoes, Egyptian art, Picassos, tapestries, maps, artifacts- the galleries never seemed to end and the mammoth size of the building itself was a true architectural feat. The main gem, however, was Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. I spent vast amounts of time staring at the ceiling. The Sistine Chapel made my audio guide worth every cent as I followed the meaning of each image. One side of the room showed the story of Moses, which I was really interested in being Jewish and all. The other were frescoes of the life of Jesus. Truly magnificent. Sadly, I didn’t get to visit the basilica because there was a long line and it started to rain.
Unfortunately, you can’t take photos inside of the Chapel, so to take part in what I am talking about, starting booking your flight to Rome now.
Notice how these days are getting shorter? That’s why I should have written this a lonnngggg time ago so everything would be nice in fresh in my mind. Anne and I went to a special Sunday market she heard about. It was pretty interesting but toward the end, all the items being sold were the same. Used clothes, new clothes, scarves, purses, fake designer purses, knick knacks, belts, socks, shoes, the likes. I succumbed to the likes of a pashmina scarf after I haggled the guy down 50 percent. He really wanted to make a deal.
All in all, my visit to Rome was spectacular. My only regret was not buying the Limoncello in the bottle the shape of Italy. Super kitchsy, but sometimes, I like that sort of stuff.