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Italian is just Spanish with an accent! August 4, 2011

Posted by annasulimirski in Travel Log.
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I finished up my European adventure with an adventure around Italy. I arrived in Venice alone with no solid plans except for my flight that left from Rome 9 days later. It was so refreshing to explore a city alone! Venice is absolutely incredible. It is just so neat how everything is done by boat! I made instant friends at my hostel, went out for my first Italian dinner with them, and jumped on their gondola ride! The next day I “got lost in venice” as they say all day long. It was magnificent!

I then got on a train for Bologna to stay with a friend who lives there that I met at Tech! It was so good to see a real Italian life and house instead of just all the tourist attractions that everyone gets to see.

Then I caught the train to Florence where I sat next to a nice old Italian lady. We had a conversation with her speaking in Italian and me speaking back in Spanish. Florence was so crowded, but the city itself is beautiful. My favorite part of the visit was climbing up the mountains bordering the city and seeing the incredible view! I also accidentally ran into a wedding at a church I wandered into.

After Florence I headed to Rome where I met up with a friend that had done the Cadiz program with me. We went out for a delicious dinner and saw some of Rome by night. The next morning we headed out to the Vatican really early to beat the lines. It was so incredible being in Vatican City. Being Catholic, I’ve always wanted to experience it!

I wandered around the city and saw the sights more that afternoon. There is so much in Rome that it is overwhelming! The next day I took a tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It was nice to hear the stories behind the piles of rocks I was looking at.

The next day I woke up to pouring rain, but ventured out into the city nonetheless. I took shelter in any church I found along the way, which is A LOT of churches. It cleared up by the afternoon, and I headed back to the Vatican to climb the dome!

The next day I headed out to the airport, which ended up being much more complicated than I had hoped. Fortunately I made it on my flight back to Madrid. It was so interesting coming back to a city that I already knew and could speak the language. I met up with my Cadiz friends that had stayed for the Madrid LBAT. I ended my European travels with them, and headed to America in the morning!

It was absolutely the trip of a life time :) I’m so thankful for the scholarship that made it possible!

La Adventura de Andalucia! July 30, 2011

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The third weekend I was in Spain we took a trip as a class all over the southern region of Spain, Andalucia. We visited the cities of Granada, Sevilla, and Cordoba which were all extremely beautiful! I loved how the entire region has so much Arabic influence. We left as a class on Thursday to travel around southern Spain. We started out in Granada, which was the last Spanish city to fall from the Arabs to the Christians. It’s architecture is to die for, and mountains with snow on them are in sight even though it’s boiling hot! We visited the Cathedral and the Alhambra there. The Alhambra is incredible. It was considered to be one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world at one point. It is like a palace/fortress building of the Arabs on the huge hill. It’s gardens and geometric designs were marvelous!

Next we went to Sevilla where we saw the 2nd largest Cathedral in the world and an old palace modeled after the Arab style. They were both incredible. I loved the feel of Sevilla on the riverside.

We then drove to Cordoba, which felt like we were in a desert. There we visited the Mezquita. It was my favorite building of the whole trip. The site originally had a cathedral that was then ruined for a mosque, and then the mosque was converted into a cathedral again. It’s mixtures of two cultures is fascinating!

I then traveled back to Cadiz for a week before leaving for Madrid. I finished up my finals in Cadiz and had to say good-bye to my home and Spanish mom, which was really hard!

Madrid was slightly overwhelming because of it’s huge size compared to the cities we had visited before then. I grew to love it, though, especially the huge parks that all the locals spent so much time at, especially at night. I visited the Royal Palace, the train station that practically has a rainforest inside, many monuments, and took a day trip to the little town of Segovia. Segovia had roman aqueducts from the first century A.D. and the castle that Walt Disney based the Sleeping Beauty castle on.

It was an incredible 2 weeks :)

Africa for the weekend! June 21, 2011

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I can’t believe I haven’t posted since Lisbon…

The next week was full of beach time, spending time with my Spanish mom, and doing projects for school. Then last weekend, we took a trip to Tanger, Morocco!! (Shakira’s “Africa” song, anyone?). It was such an adventure, and I loved experiencing it with my new friends here in the program. Morocco is extremely different from any other place I’ve ever been to. It is Arabic and the majority of its people are Muslim. It made the experience so unique from most European adventures.

We went through a company for safety and convenience sake. On the tour I got to fulfill one of my life long dreams of riding a camel!! I don’t think I can ever top that facebook profile picture. We also took a tour through the “medina” or neighborhoods in the city, went to way too many stores, and were haggled by countless peddlers. We also had interesting presentations in both carpet shops and a natural pharmacy. It was definitely an interesting smelling trip, and the mint tea is absolutely delicious!! I bought an African drum to play with someone else on my djembe when I get back :)

 

A Lisbon Adventure! June 7, 2011

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Lisboa was craziness! What an adventure. en serio. I had no idea what i was getting myself into!

It began with a sprint to the bus station after class to get to Sevilla. We then bought our midnight train tickets to Lisbon and spent the afternoon wandering around the city. I’m giving a shout-out to my mom for the southern Spain travel book she gave me in my stocking for Christmas. We used it to navigate around the city and see some really neat things :) It is an absolutely beautiful city next to a river and has a lot of history. We met some neat people, and then headed to the bus station at midnight.

All I can say about a 7 hour bus ride that starts at midnight is that at least we didn’t have to pay for a hostel…. One of the pictures is of me, Ariana, and Allie (2 other PS’s) sleeping in the bus station.

We arrived in Lisbon at 6am their time and set out to find our hostel. We got terribly lost most likely because we were totally overconfident in the similarity of Spanish in Portuguese. It felt like we had the whole city to ourselves, though. Most tourists don’t come out before 8am…. 3 hours later we made it to our comfortable, beautiful, and friendly hostel :) it was 3 blocks away from the metro station we had started at.

We spent some time exploring and then went on a super interesting walking tour of the city. We learned a lot about the history and the culture, and I felt stupid for hopping on a bus towards a city that I literally knew nothing about. The highlights of the tour were some amazing views, cool monuments, and seeing tons of Norwegians wearing viking helmets cheering at the soccer game on TV. Then we got lost again, but we won’t talk about that.

Later we ate some amazing Portuguese dinner and even more incredible Portuguese dessert and headed back to our hostel for the night tour. The nightlife in Lisbon is complete craziness. The streets were packed with people for an entire neighborhood. I have never seen anything like it.

It was so good to come back “home” to Cadiz with our Moms and a language we can understand. It’s amazing how this place does feel like home already!

Yesterday we had a class excursion to a market and then to a tower in the city with a camera oscura. It was super neat, and I’m glad I’m getting to fully explore at least my home city in Europe. Today I went to class and then hung out on the beach doing homework. We’re going to a flamenco show tonight! I’m so excited!

Cadiz – La Ciudad de mi Corazon! June 2, 2011

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I’ve been here for four days, and I still can’t believe it’s true. This city is absolutely wonderful. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I got so much more than whatever that was! I love the people, the culture, the beaches, the history, and the buildings. Everything is full of beauty!

The trip here was difficult, but looking back on it, it’s just a blur. I love my host-mom, Juani. She is so kind and caring, and I like to just spend time with her. She is fun to laugh with and loves to talk, which is good because I love to learn. Classes are going well. I’m definitely learning A LOT from the combination of learning about a subject in class, and then talking with Juani about it later. My brain is starting to switch to permanent Spanish mode, so I keep spelling English words incorrectly even while I’m typing this. It is exciting, and I can’t wait to hear myself after this month is over. Actually I can. I am definitely looking forward to all the experiences this month will bring! It’s only been 4 days and I’ve experienced so much: delicious foods, wandering the city, learning new words, salsa dancing, swimming, and meeting new people.

Cadiz doesn’t have many tourists, so I feel very immersed in Spanish culture. The people are so friendly, caring, loud, and full of life! They don’t rush towards something that makes them happy, they simply enjoy life as they go through it. Maybe it has something to do with the sun setting at 10:30 at night. They just have more time in the day to live a full life!

Tomorrow I’ll be going to Lisbon, Portugal for the weekend. It should be an adventure!

 

The pictures are of the Cathedral of Cadiz, the view from the beach that I walk to everyday, and the seafood in the market!

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