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Planning, Italy and Sant Juan! July 15, 2013

Posted by mjmaurer7 in Travel Log.
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After getting back to Barcelona, the first thing I wanted to do was relax. I spent the last day of the break relaxing on the beach, and catching up on some work. Because I haven’t mentioned before, access to the beach might be one of my favorite parts of Barcelona 🙂

The next week was largely consisted of work and planning for my next trip. Monday was the feast of Sant Juan in Barcelona, and because the entire city had the day off, so did we. Most of the people in the program wanted to stay in Barcelona because they were tired out from the week break, but also because Sant Juan was a famous party in Barcelona where fireworks and bonfires on the beach lit up the night on Sunday. I knew that I wanted to go, but I also knew that this would be one of my limited opportunities left to travel.

Since nobody from Barca was willing to go, I asked some people from GTL what they were doing. As it turns out, they were headed to Italy for their long break. On Friday they would be in Florence, and on Saturday Cinque Terre. I was beyond excited because this worked perfectly with my plans, and I would be back in time for Sant Juan. I rushed the rest of the week to make plans.

Early Friday morning, I woke up at 4:30 to someone who we didn’t know drunkenly stumbling into our room (it was weird). However, I had to wake up that early anyway to catch my 6:30 flight. I flew to Rome, and caught the train to Florence.

I checked into my hostel and let the GTLers now that I was there. While I waited for the always difficult European communication to come through, I wandered around Florence. I found the Duomo, which isn’t that impressive considering it takes up a good portion of the city. Saying I was impressed by its size is an understatement. THE THING WAS HUGE. Eventually, I rambled on, finding my way to the Galleria Academia where Michelangelo’s David resided. The line was long, but I happened to run into a group of Australians who were going in. I joined with them, so we got to get a reduced rate and skip much of the line (meeting others is one of the best parts of traveling alone). The art inside was beautiful and massive. It’s hard to describe David without seeing it. I never imagined he was that tall, I couldn’t help staring. You get a much better sense of how amazing Michelangelo is when you compare David to other sculptures.

Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo

Anyway, once I got out, I met up with the group from Lorraine. We decided to go the Piazza Michelangelo, which is famous for the best view of Florence. We took SO many pictures. We headed back to the main city, to the most famous, oldest bridge in Venice that the axis decided to leave standing during WWII. We ate dinner over the river. I split a Florentine steak and spaghetti with Parker Buntin. The steak was up there for the best steak I’ve ever put in my mouth.

The rest of the night was spent experiencing the city. We went back up the Piazza to see the sun set over Florence. We spent an hour watching a band play on the bridge with the sunset in the background. The best part of the night came after we had gotten Gelato. We wandered into a big square, where we happened to find an orchestra playing. All the while, vendors were throwing blue light up toys in the air, which slowly fell back down. They whole scene was surreal.

The next morning, we headed to the Leonardo Da Vinci museum before catching our train. Seeing Leonardo’s drawing ideas actually built was phenomenal. That man was a genius. Before long though, we were on the train to Cinque Terre.

When we got there, we split up so we could check in at our different hostels. I accidently took the long way to get to theirs. I was incredibly lucky though, because it put me on an amazingly scenic route. Riomaggore, one of the towns that makes up Cinque Terre, was situated in a valley on the Mediterranean. It was the most beautiful view of the coast that I had seen so far in Europe.


Cinque Terre


That day, we decided to hike up to a church on the peak of a hill next to Riomaggore. The hike was rough. I was pretty dehydrated, which was a huge mistake considering how hot it was. I knew the view was going to be worth it though, so we all powered through. We spent a good amount of time on that hill relaxing and taking pictures. The coastline was beautiful. We made our way back down, and started looking immediately for somewhere to eat. We got some pizza and pasta and chowed down. After, we made our way to the docks and the shoreline. The rest of the night was spent skipping rocks and relaxing. I went back to my hostel, which was a town over, discovered how a bidet works, and went to bed.

The next morning, I boarded a train to Milan, took a shuttle to the airport, boarded my plane, and went back to Barcelona by 5:00 PM. I felt pretty accomplished because I somehow managed to successfully plan two plane rides, two bus rides, and four trains by myself.

By the time I got back to my room, it was almost time for the Sant Juan. I went with most of the program to the beach with lots of fireworks. We were up late that night laying back on the beach and experiencing the fireworks. By the end of the night, the beach looked like a warzone.

That’s it for this part, stay tuned for more!


The Five Best Things to Do in Cinque Terre June 16, 2010

Posted by Emi Leonard in Travel Log.
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I went to Cinque Terre this past weekend and had the time of my life!!! It is by far my favorite place in Italy and I hope to travel back there someday. So here’s my list of the top five things to do there which will hopefully give you a better idea of why it is so incredibly awesome.

The Coast of Riomaggiore

Number Five: Eat delicious seafood!

I had the most wonderful food in Cinque Terre. The first night we ate a fancy restaurant right by the water, and while it was a bit more expensive than the places we usually eat, it was well-worth the price. Lexie and I shared the caprese salad (a must-have), local prawns with sweet and sour onions, the clam linguine, and some white wine, of course. The prawns were so well-cooked and tender that I have officially decided that America overcooks seafood. I’ve never eaten anything that tasted so good! From now on my taste buds will only be disappointed. (more…)