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Last Days in Barcelona… August 14, 2011

Posted by ecarastrickland in Travel Log.
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As my last log entry, I would like to write about my last weekend in Barcelona!  After our final classes on Friday, many of the students and I made a treck out to the beautiful rose garden a few blocks from campus.  I had never been, but all of them had, and now I see why they were shocked I had never gone.  It was so wonderful, and peaceful, and stunningly gorgeous!

I had an absolute ball walking through the roses and up a hill to an arbor where we sat an picnicked for lunch.  As I ate one of the best tuna sandwiches ever, I looked out over the city and admired the beauty of the place I had come to love.  Barcelona has this power to work its way down into your soul and spark a love of the city you didn’t know was possible.

I adore both Spain and Barcelona so much now, and I am so happy I was able to study abroad this summer.  As a celebration of our time in Barcelona we took lots and lots of pictures playing around in the rose garden.  We took classic “jumping” pictures, handstand pictures, “smelling the roses” pictures, and many more.  It was a blast and the pictures really capture the spirit of the moment.

The next day we decided to travel an hour north of Barcelona to St. Paul de Mar and spend the day at the beach.  While the train ride there lasted forever, we were delighted with the little town we arrived at.  It looked just like what we all imagine small town coastal Europe would be like.  It had the most quaint atmosphere and the most beautiful buildings nestled against the coastline.

On top of that, the beach was not a sand beach but a pebbly one.  I had never been to a pebble beach before and was amazed with it.  I ran my fingers and toes through the pebbles all day and was so fascinated by it, that I brought a whole bag of the pebbles home with me.  It might seem silly to some, but I will never forget the texture of the pebbles as they ran through my fingers.  I am glad I brought a little bit of Spain back with me, it makes me feel like i never really left, and I have to go back very soon.

London Town! August 13, 2011

Posted by ecarastrickland in Travel Log.
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One of the places I was lucky enough to visit while abroad on the Barcelona Program was London!  I had the best time in the UK and really got a sense of the city.  I met one of my friends who has lived in London for 2 years in the city and stayed with her for the trip.  Because she had lived in the city so long and was so knowledgeable about all things London, I was able to make the most of my very short day and a half visit.

I had always heard the worst things about English food, but my trip made me beleive otherwise.  We went to Borough Market first thing on Saturday morning and got our food for breakfast and lunch that day.  All the vendors were sweet and freindly and always offered samples, so I was able to try many traditional English foods for free!  I would advise visiting markets like this to anyone, you are sure to love the colorful displays and yummy smells.

Having not had a burger since leaving the states a months earlier, I had a huge juicy homemade burger for breakfast (unorthodox I know…) and enjoyed every bite.  We then bought bread, meat, fruit, and tapenade to have for a picnic later.  We then walked along the Thames to the Tower of London and saw Tower Bridge.  From there we took the tube to Parlaiment and stood under Big Ben and got a great veiw of the eye and then saw Westminster Abbey (SO PRETTY!!). We then walked from westminster to the Hourse Guard and were thrilled to find all the men of the Horse Guard marching and drumming and moving out into the street.  It was the week before the queen’s jubilee and they were practicing for it!  The streets between the Guard and the Palace were all closed to traffic and the Men and Horses all marched along them toward the palace!  They were moving quickly toward the palace and we wanted to see them very much, so we ran along the street in the Park to catch up!  It was so much fun laughing and running to catch a glimpse of the Men in all their pomp and circumstance!  We then got the Buckingham Palace and I was yet again amazed by the beauty of another British monument.

After this we relaxed in the park and enjoyed our picnic lunch.  Soon after we walked to Trafalgar Square and then down to Harrods to see the world famous store!  As a finale to our day we then went to have traditional Englihs tea!  After such a long and exhausted day, we took it easy and ate close to home.

Sunday was our vintage shopping day!  We kicked it off with a traditional full British breakfast and I got my first experience of having baked beans for breakfast (weird, but not too bad).  We then went to Brick Lane, a district of London FULL of vintage shops, markets, and pop-up stores.  I loved wandering around and seeing all the old antiques, cool retro gadgets, and funky clothes!

Later that afternoon I was forced to bid the Foggy Town an early goodbye and head back to Spain.  It was such a nice feeling to come back “home” to Barcelona, and feel welcomed back into the city.  I had come to love the city and appreciate all its beauty, and spending some time away helped me to realize that.

Oui Oui, I went to Paris! August 12, 2011

Posted by ecarastrickland in Travel Log.
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Now that I am home I have some time to reflect and think about my time abroad.  One of my most memorable side trips was to Paris!  I met my Fiance in Paris for three days and we explored the town to its fullest.  We rented a flat in the 9th arrondissement and used the metro to get around. Yummy Tart! The first day we rose early and went to see the Louvre.  Now, if I were to give one piece of advice to a traveler in Europe, it would be to NOT go to the museums on the first Sunday of the month.  These days offer free admission into ALL museums in Europe and that is nice for the extremely budget conscious; however, it means at least an hour and 45 minute wait to gain admission to the museum.  We honestly waited in line longer than we were in the museum.  It was very interesting though to see the famous artworks and Napoleon’s apartments. I'M AT THE LOUVRE! We then walked through the Louvre gardens and enjoyed a picnic lunch among the flowers, stumbled upon a cute little fair, and saw all the performers for Parisian “Carnival” (which was exactly like Rio Carnival).  We then saw Notre Dame and then sought out some much needed rest.  First Glimpse of the Eiffel Tower!After our packed and exhausting first day we chose to take it easy for the remainder of our trip and leasuirely saw the Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomph, and Gallaries Lafayette.  We then topped off one evening with a Gaufre beneath the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed the sparkling light show.  To wrap up our trip we journeyed to Versailles to see the royal palace!  As an architecture major this was insane to see something so beautiful and extravagant!  I was shoked to see walls made of SOLID marble and furniture covered in gold.  Because the palace was so crowded; however, I enjoyed the openness of the gardens the most.  I was astonished at how large and expansive the gardens were, we explored for an hour and only saw an 8th or less of the gardens.  During our time in the gardens I discovered many differences between French and English gardens and learned which ones I liked more.  French gardens consist of flowers, trimmed bushes, and grass which is sectioned off from touching by gravel pathways.  English gradens have rolling grassy hills, tall shady trees, and ponds through which you walk and sit.

The English garden I fell in love with!

As it was such a hot day and I was so tired, all I wanted to do was sit in the shade and feel the grass between my toes, so I obviously loved the English gardens much more and we spent the majority of our time lying down in one.  Well, that covers my jaunt to Paris and Versailles where I learned about gardens, boulevards, and really really big museums!

hmmm…I think I will go on a Cruise! July 21, 2011

Posted by ecarastrickland in Travel Log.
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Since the Barcelona Program I am currently on stays in the city for the duration of the summer, we are given 2 separate travel weeks in which to explore Europe!  During my first week I wanted to see a full gamut of cities that spanned southern Europe, but I also wanted some time to relax as well, so what better way is there to combine the two than a cruise!?!?  After finding a pretty sweet deal on a 7 day cruise departing from none-other-than our very own Barcelona, we decided to book it!!  (We being me, Katie Braswell, Rachel Doctor, Katie Guebert, Rachel Wernert, and fellow PS Naomi Robert)  We were all so pumped to go on vacation after our first (particularly grueling) four weeks of classes, but little did we know what an absolute blast we would have!  After being separated from English speaking culture for a month, we found extreme pleasure in the fact that everything and everyone on board displayed, spoke, or understood English!  After settling into deck chairs with fruity umbrella drinks in hand, we set sail to see beautiful southern France and western Italy.  Our first day in port we visited Toulon, France, a small town on the coast.  It tied for first place among my favorite place we visited.  It wasn’t particularly beautiful, but the people in the open air market we spent the day in were charming and friendly as we bought everything from french napkins to regional produce to delightful meringue.  The following day we visited Villefranche, France, a larger town on the coast, and took a side tour to Monaco and Monte Carlo!  Villefranche stole my heart because of its breathtaking coastal vistas.  As we tendered to shore, I snapped a million pictures of the coast which I then used in a fun homework assignment!  The next two cities to be visited were Florence, Italy and Rome, Italy.  Our day in Florence was nicknamed “Prowling for Leather.”  As leather is the most famous and popular thing to buy in Florence, we were constantly surrounded by stores, carts, and vendors selling their authentic leather goods.  One thing i did learn was to shop around…don’t just buy what you find in the first store, we first saw goods for upwards of 200 euros, and after some wandering and searching found the same ones for 50 euros or less.  I learned to be savvy with my money and patient with finding a good deal that day!  Rome was a much different experience entirely.  As it was Wednesday when we visited and that is when the Pope holds Papal audience in St. Peter’s square, we were afforded the once in a lifetime chance to see the Pope!  That was by far the best part of Rome, as it was an unexpected surprise!  Another bit of fate befell us as we ran into a group of 6 other students from the Barcelona Program in the square.  It was a “small world” moment where I knew the chances of it had to be one in a million, what a lucky occurrence!  The next two days were spent on board, relaxing and enjoying it all! Great food, lots of sun, and very comfortable beds :)  I will definitely be cruising again and spending more time in my beloved southern France!

Ready to have a good time!

All the girls dressed up for dinner!

Smelling the flowers in Toulon with Naomi!
All the girls in the Market in Toulon!

Collage of the Villefranche Coastline!

Pasta in Florence!

Me and Katie B. tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain!

The Colliseum!

St. Peter's Square, I saw the Pope!!

The cruise was amazing!

Life in Spain! July 12, 2011

Posted by ecarastrickland in Travel Log.
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What a time I have been having in Spain!!!  I arrived about 2 months ago but due to being insanely busy and having such an enriching time, I have yet to blog about my experiences here.  That all changes now!!  I have been spending the majority of my time in Barcelona and have made side trips to England, France, and Italy!  When first arriving in Barcelona I was blown away by the beauty of the city and wonderful weather!  Everywhere I looked there was another beautiful building to admire and always Spaniards living out their lives on the many benches throughout the city.

I love this moment of a family enjoying time outside on one of the many Barcelona benches.

That is one of the things I love most about the city, its wonderful outdoor spaces.  As the Catalan lifestyle is more relaxed and carefree than that of many other cultures, the citizens all have a more leisurely approach to how they spend their time.  It is an everyday occurrence to spend time enjoying the outdoors on a bench, watching children run about and play some futbol.

During my first weekend I captured this moment of childhood joy

 

With so many outdoor spaces throughout the city, I discovered several within the first few weeks of living in Barcelona.  Two of my favorite outdoor places are the Arc de Triomf and Mont Juic.  The Arc is central to the city and what I see everyday as I come and go to class at UPC.  Mont Juic is more on the outskirts of the city and is much larger than the park facing the Arc.  Positioned on a hill overlooking the city and home to most of the Barcelona Olympics arenas, Mont Juic is a huge playground for citizens of and visitors to Barcelona.  As I walked through the enumerable gardens and explored the Olympics buildings, I couldn’t help but to admire the beautiful vistas overlooking the city.  It took my breath away when we got our first glimpse of the panorama laid out below the swimming complex and I could only imagine the how it felt to dive in front of such a majestic view.

Posing for the camera in front of the gorgeous vistas of Barcelona!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The open air pool where the olymians competed in diving looking out over the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also love the beautiful beaches here in Barcelona and find myself at them on many a sunny day!  It is wonderful to relax and journal by the ocean with the sea breezes and bright sun.  Despite the water being so cold during our first month here, I swam for many hours in the blue waters.  Now that the water has warmed up, I spend much to much time floating in the gentle waves.  As I spend more time in this wonderful city I think more about moving here to live my life.  It is a drastic change from the American way of life, but one I have come to love and appreciate.  We shall see where I end up now that I have fallen in love with this wonderful Catalan city!

 

Relaxing for my first time at the beach!

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