Salzburg, Austria

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After only 2 days in Munich, my parents and I packed up our stuff and headed to Salzburg, Austria! From the moment we arrived, I knew this would be my favorite place I had been so far. I have been to so many amazing cities, but nothing compares to the beauty of Austria.

We jumped right into things, and before we even went to our Airbnb, we got on a bus and went on the official Sound of Music tour! Julie Andrews filmed the Sound of Music in Salzburg, and we got to see so many of the sights from the movie! We saw the Von Trapp Villa, the lake that Maria and the kids flipped the canoe in, the famous 16 going on 17 gazebo, the church that Maria and Georg got married in, and all of the sights from the epic “Do-Re-Mi” song! All of the views were so beautiful and we had so much fun singing along to the soundtrack in our tour bus. If you ever find yourself in Austria, this tour is a must. Once we got back, we headed straight to the Mirabella Gardens and saw the beautiful flowers and ivy archways. Most of “Do-Re-Mi” was filmed here, so I had fun running around and thinking to myself “Julie Andrews stood here once”. We ended our day with a quick stop at a beer hall (when in Austria, am I right) and dinner at this great Italian restaurant, L’Osteria.

Once we got back, we headed straight to the Mirabell Gardens and saw the beautiful flowers and ivy archways. Most of “Do-Re-Mi” was filmed here, so I had fun running around and thinking to myself “Julie Andrews stood here once”. We ended our day with a quick stop at a beer hall (when in Austria, am I right) and dinner at this great Italian restaurant, L’Osteria.

Day two in Salzburg was spent exploring as much of the city as we could! We bought a Salzburg pass that got us into all of the museums and monuments for free, as well as allowed us to use their public transportation system, and it was the best decision ever! It paid for itself in no time at all. We first took a bus to the base of Untersburg mountain, where we took a 10-minute gondola ride to the peak!  The ride to the top would have been worth it in itself, but walking around the top of the mountain was amazing! We had the best view of Salzburg, and we were surrounded by snowy mountains. How dreamy is that? After exploring the peak for a while and grabbing a quick hot chocolate, we took the gondola back down and began looking for lunch. We found this cute place called Cook & Wine, where we sat outside in the sun and ate. The best part of the meal? They actually gave me ICE with my coke! I haven’t had a glass of ice in three months, so it was heavenly. After lunch, we accidently found Nonnberg Abbey, the actual abbey that Maria lived in! We then made our way up to Hohensalzburg Fortress, a huge white fortress that looks over all of Salzburg. It was cool to learn about its history and see another breathtaking view of such a beautiful city.

Our time in Salzburg ended with a trip across Mozart’s bridge, and dinner at a traditional Austrian restaurant. My only regret about my time in Salzburg is that we left so soon! I was surprised at how much there was to do there, I wish I could have stayed longer. Maybe I’ll learn German, get a job at Red Bull (which has its headquarters in Salzburg) and live here forever.

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The lake where SOM was filmed

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16 going on 17 gazebo

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the Von Trapp Villa

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Inside the church where Maria and Georg were married

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Mirabell Gardens

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cutest

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Mirabell gardens

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View of the Fortress

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Untersberg Mountain

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View from the Fortress

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Mozart’s bridge

Part 3 coming tomorrow: Paris!

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Mom, Dad, and Munich

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I have had a lot of people visit me in France recently, but last week my favorite visitors finally came to see me! That’s right, Mom and Dad came to Paris! After 3 months of being apart, I was more than ready for them to come visit and I had the greatest week ever with them. They recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary (goals), so this was a combined anniversary/see their favorite daughter trip for them. We made the most of our week together and explored Paris, Munich, and Salzburg! We did so many things in the short time they were here that I decided to split our week up into a few separate posts. First up: our weekend in Munich, Germany!

I didn’t know how I would feel about Germany, but from the moment we arrived, I fell in love with Munich! The buildings in the town square seemed like they were straight out of a storybook. There were clock towers everywhere (I was woken up by one at 7 AM our first morning) and old buildings covered in ivy. I was afraid Germany was going to be freezing, but it was warm and the sun was shining all weekend! Our Airbnb was amazing, a renovated 700-year-old church with a heck of a lot of character. It was right next to the city square and could not have been any better!

The first thing we did when we got to Germany was, you guessed it, go to a beer hall. We headed straight to the most famous and popular beer hall, Hofbrauhaus. This place is MASSIVE, and no trip to Munich is complete without ordering a giant liter of beer here. We were hungry from traveling all day, so we also got a soft pretzel the size of my face and tried our first genuine German sausage! There was a band playing, people laughing and screaming, and all around madness. It was great. After our beer/pretzel/sausage snack, we headed to dinner. Yep, you read that right. We all ordered authentic German dishes and ate until we couldn’t eat another bite.

The next day, we traveled right outside of Munich and toured Dachau Concentration Camp. This was one of the most humbling and shocking experiences of my entire life. Dachau was one of the first concentration camps and served as a model for all other camps across Europe. It is free to get into the concentration camp memorial site, but we paid for a guided tour and I learned so much. I thought I knew a lot about the Holocaust, but now I feel like I know nothing. Nothing will ever compare to the feeling of walking through the gas chamber of a concentration camp. The day was emotional, educational, and all around something that I will never forget.

When we got back to Munich we decided to cheer ourselves up and went to the English Garden! This is a huge park in the middle of the city; it was pretty much the German version of Central Park. My parents and I had such a great time wandering around. I forgot I was in the middle of Germany while I was there! Everything was so lush and green and the trees were beautiful. We walked to Monopterus, a monument on a hill in the middle of the park. The view from the top was amazing! It was the best way to end our time in Munich.

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“Work will set you free” The entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp

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The view down the center of Dachau

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Flowers left at the site of an old barrack in Dachau

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A memorial sculpture made by a survivor of Dachau

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My cute mom and dad!!!

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English Garden. I’m in love.

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Monopterus 

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Keep a look out tomorrow for part 2: Salzburg, Austria!

Spring has Sprung!

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I have always been more of a summer person but I think I have had a change of heart. I’m not sure if it was just a tease or if Paris is finally warming up, but Thursday was sunny and 65! We took full advantage of the weather and laid under the Eiffel Tower and read. I made some progress on Les Miserables so you could say it was a successful day. We stopped by the amazing Galleries Lafayette and did a little bit of shoe shopping on the way home.  If the rest of my time here is this weather, I truly will never want to leave!

Spring also means I actually have to start paying attention to basketball, because it is March Madness! We have a bracket challenge going on within my program, so you can always find a room full of people watching whatever game is on. I personally know absolutely nothing about basketball, but I still think it is fun to make a bracket and get competitive with friends and family! Plus, I’m the reigning champion in my family league, so I have a lot to live up to this season. Thankfully, I chose Arizona to win in my Clemson league, so not all hope is lost…yet.

The weather is perfect and March Madness is fun, but hands down the best part of Spring is Spring Break. I’m not even talking about myself going somewhere (I do that enough), I’m talking about my best friend/freshman roommate Lily coming and staying in Paris for Clemson’s spring break! Lily flew in super early Saturday morning (I’m talking 5 am early), so Ally and I went and picked her up at the airport at the crack of dawn! We were already out early so we headed to our favorite brunch place in Montmartre, The Hardware Societe, and drank as much coffee as humanly possible. We then took Lily to tour Sacre Coeur, visited the Wall of Love, and wandered around our favorite Montmartre streets. After, we strolled down the Champs-Elysses, stopping in our favorite stores (Laduree for macarons and Louis Vitton for absolutely nothing) and ended up at the Arc de Triumphe! We climbed to the top again, and I’ve decided that is my favorite view of Paris. You can see everything! There was also a HUGE French flag flying in the Arc which was really cool to see! For dinner, we ate at La Gazette, which was absolutely delicious! It is really close to the Arc but not touristy at all, I would highly recommend. After our stomachs were full we met some friends at a bar in the Latin Quarter, where we all huddled around Kasey’s phone and watched Villanova blow everyone’s brackets. The night ended with a Nutella crepe so you could say it was a great day.

We got a late start on Sunday, but still did lots! We got coffee at the Shakespeare and Co cafe and sat in the park right across the street. It is next to Notre Dame, so the people watching was phenomenal! We stopped by the Love Lock Bridge before heading to the one and only Eiffel Tower. We ended up spending over 4 hours there, just walking around, sitting on benches and catching up. It was fun seeing Paris with Lily, but the best part of the weekend was just hanging out with my best friend.

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Also note: If you couldn’t tell from the pictures, it was not sunny and 65 all week but the weather has still been super nice, so I’m going to count it as the beginning of spring, even if I’m just a bit early.

 

 

Strutting through Barcelona

 

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The view from the bunkers with my mejor amigas !!

 

Last weekend my travels took me back to Spain! Ally and I left the cold Parisian weather for a warmer, sunnier city and spent the weekend visiting Sydney and Sammi in Barcelona! I’ve been so excited to go to Barcelona and let me tell you, the city really did live up to all the hype.

We flew in late Friday night, so the real fun started Saturday! Each day was jam packed with cool things to see and do. First, we went to the bunkers, which had the most amazing panoramic view of the entire city! Despite tripping and falling in front of an entire class of small children, it was still one of my favorite things about the weekend. I would definitely recommend it, I don’t know how you could find a better view, plus it was free! After that, we took a quick bus to Park Guell and walked around there for a while! Gaudi’s architecture is so different than anything else I have seen, I felt as if I was walking around a gingerbread village.

At around 3:00 (I will never get used to the late meals in Spain) we headed over to the beach to have the most amazing lunch ever. Sydney made us reservations at a restaurant called Xup Xup, and we sat and ate paella and drank sangria on the beach! The weather was beautiful and the food was delicious; all in all it was the perfect afternoon. That night we fully embraced the Barcelona lifestyle and went out to some of our friends’ favorite bars.

The next morning, we got up and ate brunch at a place called Milk. It was so cute and cozy, and the food was amazing! We then made our way to the Arc de Triomf, aka the Spanish Arc de Triomphe. It was interesting to see how the two cultures designed two similar things in such different ways! After, we then spent a few hours sitting in the Ciutadella Park enjoying the beautiful weather. Before turning in for a chill movie night back in the apartment, we continued to eat the most delicious food at a really amazing tapas bar that I can’t remember the name of to save my life. I’ve decided that tapas are the best invention ever because it means I don’t have to decide what I want to order, we can just eat everything on the menu!

Our last day in Barcelona started off with a tour of the Sagrada Familia while our friends were in class. I was so shocked when I walked inside; it was nothing like I imagined! The rainbow stained glass windows were my favorite part. We then met back up with Sydney and walked down La Rambla, including a quick pit stop at a bakery called Choke, where I got a cronut, aka the cross between a croissant and donut! 10/10 would recommend. Sydney took us to the biggest market ever, where we wandered around for a while and tried some fresh fruit and empanadas. After we were finished we headed down to the marina and walked along the water until lunch, when we met up with Sammi and got sandwiches from the famous Bo de B. I didn’t think I was that hungry after the market and bakery, but it was so good that I ate almost the entire thing.

The weekend was spent with great food and even better friends, so it really could not have been better. If you couldn’t tell, I’m obsessed with Spanish food, so I was pretty much in heaven all weekend. There is no way that was my last time in Barcelona!

P.S. If you don’t know what my title is referencing, click here and enjoy. You’re welcome.

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Thanks, Syd and Sam for being the best hosts/tour guides/friends ever!!

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Park Guell

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Arc de Triomf

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The huge fountain in the park we went to on Sunday

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The Sagrada Familia, under construction for 135 years and counting!

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The marina

Étretat

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Ever since I went to Versailles, I have been wanting to go on more day trips to places in France. Between class, having friends visit, and traveling to crazy cool places, I really haven’t had much time to get away for the day. But last Thursday Ally, Emily and I finally took another day trip! We traveled a few hours outside of Paris by train and ended up in Étretat, a tiny farming town in the Normandie region known for their amazing cliffs. We ended up having one of the best days so far!

Unfortunately, our trip didn’t exactly start as planned. We started our morning very early and took a two-hour train to a station, where we were supposed to get on a bus. We got the bus times mixed up, and as we were walking up to the bus station we watched our 10:30 bus roll out at exactly 10:19. Our 11-minute mistake was going to cost us three hours because the next bus to Étretat did not leave until 1:30. Our time was already pretty limited so we decided to bite the bullet and take a not-so-cheap cab. In the end, it was 100% worth it.

40 minutes later we arrived, triple checked the time for our bus home, and headed out to the cliffs. We walked out to the ocean and onto a beach covered in rocks and pebbles. It was incredibly windy and a bit chilly, but we had a blast running up and down the beach. We were acting like little children that had never seen the ocean, it was so much fun. The beach is surrounded by cliffs on either side, so after our fair share of running from the waves we picked a side and started climbing!

Even though it was a little foggy, the view from the top was amazing. We ended up climbing up both sides of the cliffs, going a little too close to the edge, and taking way too many pictures. It was so beautiful, I forgot how much I love the ocean. We even found a sketchy staircase down the face of one of the cliffs and decided to do a little extra exploring. It took us down to a tiny, secluded rock beach and we spent way too much time just hanging out and looking at all the rocks. Right when we were about to climb the stairs back up the cliff to return to where we came from, we found a cave/tunnel that led us through the cliff to the other side, back to the original beach we started on! All three of us ran through the cave screaming because it was so creepy and dark, but we were willing to do anything to not have to climb up more steep stairs.

Three coffees and one bus ride later (we got to the bus stop very early this time), we were headed back to Paris. I had never even heard of Étretat two weeks ago, and now it is one of my favorite places! It was such a unique experience. Plus, the cliffs got me even more excited for my Cliffs of Moher tour I’m taking in Ireland next month. I’ll leave you with more low-quality iPhone pictures; I didn’t want to take my camera because there was a high chance of rain.

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Am I a Local Yet?

I have officially been living in Paris for over two months, how crazy is that? Time has been flying by, but the best part is I have 3 months to go! The greatest thing about studying abroad in Paris is that you will never run out of things to do in your own city. I feel like I have seen so much, yet I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the things Paris has to offer!

This weekend I got to show off my love for my new home to three of my best friends! Sydney, Sammi and Casey (the same Casey that I visited in Italy last month) all lived in my dorm freshman year and are still some of my closest friends, so this weekend was seriously one of the best yet. The only thing better than exploring Paris is getting to explore Paris with my best friends!

It was so much fun being a tourist in my own city for the weekend. On Friday, Sydney Sammi and Casey explored the champs-élysées and Arc de Triomphe while Ally and I were in class (until 5:50… ugh), but then we met up with them for dinner. It was Casey’s birthday, which called for lots of celebrating, so after dinner we met up with friends from my program at a bar in the Latin Quarter. It was so much fun being able to be with Casey on her birthday and spend time celebrating her in Europe! I never thought that would happen.

The rest of the weekend was a bit rainy, but that didn’t stop us from having fun! We ate at countless cafes, saw Notre Dame, went to the love lock bridge, climbed up to Sacre Coeur, bought books at Shakespeare and Co (I bought Les Miserables, wish me luck) and spent too many hours drinking coffee trying to stay warm (and dry). Saturday night the weather cleared up just in time for us to go to up the Eiffel Tower. It was my first time actually going to the top of the tower, and I am so glad I did it at night! The view was beautiful; there is truly nothing like the twinkling lights of Parisian streets. Sunday morning we went to the most amazing brunch spot in Montmartre called The Hardware Society. It was so cute and I had the most amazing fried brioche of my life. Nothing else will ever compare.

Overall, it was a great weekend and I had so much fun showing my best friends all around Paris! Exploring the city was great, but the best part was just being able to spend time with them after being apart for months. Some of my favorite memories from freshman year are just laying on the floor of Casey and Sydney’s room laughing until I cry, and it was so cool being able to make new memories with them in Paris!

Now that the weekend is over, I have to snap back into reality. Apparently, you do actually have to study during study abroad (who knew?) because I have a finance test on Tuesday and right now I’m not feeling too prepared. So for the next few days, it will just be me, my financial calculator, and Ed Sheeran’s new album. Wish me luck.

Disclaimer: it was too rainy for me to bring my camera out with me this weekend, so I only have a few low-quality phone shots 😦

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We didn’t let the rain ruin our day!

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Go friends go paris go tigers

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Birthday girl!

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Eiffel Tower views

When in Rome… and Florence… and Venice

So, I may be slacking on keeping all of you updated on my adventures, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing some amazing things! So you might want to sit down and grab yourself a nice large cup of coffee because I have so much to fill you in on! (If you are only interested in the pictures, you might just want to skip to the bottom).

First, and most importantly, I spent ten days in Italy! My school had a week break in mid-February so we took full advantage of it and packed our (very heavy) backpacks and headed to Rome, Florence, and Venice!

Our first stop was Rome, and I’m going to be honest, it might have been my favorite. There was so much to see, and all of it was so old! Never in my life did I think I would get to see something build almost 2000 years ago! We flew in and headed straight to the Collesium (it was only a few blocks from our Airbnb, how great is that). After taking an embarrassing amount of photos we headed to the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill. Talk about impressive! I think I could have spent and entire day walking around there; there was just so much to see. We also started a motto that first day that we would live by for the next 10 days of our lives: pizza, pasta, gelato. That’s right, I didn’t eat anything but cheesy carbs and ice cream for a week and a half. I was living the true Italian luxury life.

Days two and three were full of more amazing Roman sights! We wandered around the streets of Rome (how cool is that to say?) for a while, saw the Altare della Patria, went to the Pantheon, threw coins and made wishes at the Trevi Fountain, and people watched while sitting on the Spanish Steps. We even took a trip to the Vatican city and toured Saint Peter’s Basilica. Never in my life did I think I would get to see Peter’s grave! We practically ran through the Vatican museum because we were running super late but we just HAD to see the Sistine Chapel. We then jumped on the metro, grabbed our bags, and took a train to Florence!

Florence was beautiful, but the best part was seeing my best friend Casey! She is currently studying abroad there, so we met up with her every day when she got out of class. We stayed right next to the Duomo, a huge cathedral, so the first morning there we toured it and climbed to the top of the bell tower. 400 steps later, we all felt like our legs might fall off but the view was worth it! We rewarded ourselves with plenty of chocolate from a chocolate festival before heading to an Italian leather market! Don’t worry, I didn’t break the bank. That night we walked up more steps (I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it) to Piazzale Michelangelo. All the walking was worth it because we watched to sunset over all of Florence and it was breathtaking. We sat on the steps, listened to a guitarist play romantic songs and watched the sun go down in a way it only can in Italy. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my Valentines day any other way.

That night, we went to this really cool American Bar called the Lion’s Fountain. The ceiling was covered in t-shirts from pretty much every college in the USA. We all stood on a stool and signed the Clemson one. I even added a little “natty champs” shout out, just incase anyone forgot about that.

The next day we hopped on a bus and took a wine tour through the Tuscan region! We tasted countless Chianti Classicos at two different vineyards. We all had so much fun, and learned a little bit too! I even made friends with a vineyard cat, so you could say it was the best day ever. Plus, the views were to die for (I’m learning that all of Europe is really really pretty). The next morning we had cannolis at Don Ninos, where the stuff the cannoli right in front of you when you order! It was my first ever cannoli, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat another on because none will ever live up to that one. We ended out time in Florence by seeing the one and only Michelangelo’s David. Honestly, it was even more impressive in person (unlike something else cough cough Mona Lisa). After admiring David for a while, we caught our next train to Venice! Casey came with us too, so that made this part of the trip even better!

The moment we arrived in Venice we knew this would be so different than anything else we had experienced! We stepped off our train and into a water taxi! That’s right, we took a boat to our next Airbnb. By the time we dropped our stuff off, we were starving so we pretty much walked into the first restaurant we saw, which ended up being a little expensive for our budget, but we decided what the heck, when in Venice!

The next three days were filled with wandering through the beautiful canals of Venice! We didn’t know this when we planned the trip, but that weekend was Carnival in Venice, which is a HUGE celebration where everyone dresses up and wears masks! It was really fun seeing all the costumes. We spent lots of time in St. Marks Square and toured the basilica. I’ve learned that traveling through Europe is actually just going into thousands of impressive churches. We went to the top of another bell tower and saw a beautiful view of the entire island. One of my favorite parts was a free walking tour that we took. The guide was great; I learned so much and saw so many things that I wouldn’t have otherwise! We also did the most touristy thing possible and took a gondola ride through the canals. One night we went to a little bar and Casey, Ally and I met the sweetest old couple there. The husband was British and the wife was French, and we ended up talking to them for over two hours! It was so cool to hear about their lives and they gave us so many tips for when we visit the UK.

We got up super early on Sunday and begrudgingly flew home. It was seriously one of the most amazing weeks of my life! I never imagined that I would get to travel across Italy with five of my friends. I’ve also never eaten that much pasta in such a condensed amount of time. But hey, when in Italy!

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The Coliseum

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The Tiger Rage made a few appearances this trip

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More Coliseum

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The view of the Roman Forum from the Coliseum

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One of our many stops for gelato

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Trevi Fountain is definitely the most impressive fountain I’ve ever seen

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Making a wish in the Trevi Fountain

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On to Florence! The view from the bell tower

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Piazzale Michelangelo views

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Go Tigers

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First vineyard on the wine tour!

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I wasn’t kidding when I said we made friends with a cat. His name is Truffle.

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Breathtaking views from the second vineyard

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The whole group, plus Casey!

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David

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Venice!

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It was cold, but that didn’t stop us from taking a gondola ride.

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Carnival made the trip even more exciting!

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v i e w s