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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!

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