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!

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!

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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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

 

Brussels, Belgium

Have you ever wanted to spend an entire weekend eating the best food of your entire life? Well, I know just the place to do it! My friends and I traveled to Brussels, Belgium for a weekend back in January and now my stomach will never be the same. Saturday morning we boarded our € 15 bus ride and three and a half hours later the seven of us dropped our stuff off in our unusually large apartment and the weekend began!

We spent a majority of our trip wandering around the little streets of Brussels, exploring all that the city has to offer. We saw lots of art and beautiful architecture! There is a comic strip walk where artists have painted huge murals of comic strips on the side of buildings, so we spent some time searching the city for those! Our apartment was a five-minute walk from the Grand Place, a huge city square surrounded by amazing buildings, so we always seemed to end up back there to hang out. We also saw the famous Manneken Pis, aka the peeing boy statue. It is super random and really small (think Mona Lisa small) but it is so funny that it definitely makes it a must-see.

Saturday was Chinese New Year and Brussels went all out! We accidently walked into a really cool parade complete with a dragon and 50 little kids dressed in panda onesies! It was really cool to see all the intricate costumes and dances. There was also some type of martial arts demonstration in the Grand Place that we watched for a while. Music was playing everywhere and the streets were full of people celebrating, so it really made the weekend even more fun.

Sunday, we took a taxi over to the Atomium, a huge metal structure that looks like a giant atom! It was built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. We went inside of it and got to go to the top and see a great view of the city.

The sightseeing was great, but the food was the best part of the trip. I started off with some amazing meatballs and fries from a cafe (who knew those even went together) and it just went up from there. I ate the best waffles in the entire world (sorry dad) at Maison Dandoy, followed by a close second from a street waffle vendor. We got street fries from Georgette’s and huddled around a table outside stuffing our faces as fast as possible. Finally, we ate dinner not once but twice at a restaurant called Peck 47. That’s right, it was so good that we went back just two days after eating there the first time. Mackenzie said that she had the best burger of her entire life (take that America) and I ate the most amazing savory waffle covered in cheese and topped with two poached eggs. Yes, it was so good that I actually ate the eggs. Who am I?

And of course, no trip to Belgium would be complete without chocolate and beer. It seemed like every store we passed sold chocolate! We even went into a chocolate museum and watched a chocolatier make chocolates. I bought a box of assorted Belgian chocolates from Elisabeth Chocolatier. So good. Finally, we went to the famous Delirium Bar! Supposedly they have over 3,000 beers to choose from, and I wouldn’t doubt it after going there because that place was HUGE! It was incredibly crowded but somehow my friends and I got a table and we had a great time just drinking beer and hanging out. It was such a fun experience!

Overall, the weekend was tons of fun and I truly feel like I ate my way through Brussels. I learned that you really don’t need to eat anything other than fries, waffles, chocolate and beer.

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Waffles on waffles on waffles

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The Grand Place

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Peeing Boy

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I love coffee shops

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There is so much street art in Brussels!

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The Atomium

48 Hours in Seville 

0s8a9960We took our first weekend trip! Yes, I know we have only been in Paris for two weeks, but we just couldn’t wait to start traveling! So after class on Friday, a few of my friends and I packed our bags and hopped on a plane to Seville, Spain. We were only there for 48 hours but we did so much and had such an amazing time! The seven of us stayed in the Black Swan Hostel in Seville. It was everyone’s first time staying in a communal hostel, but we were all pleasantly surprised! It was in a great location and was extremely clean and nice and everyone we met was super friendly.

To be honest, I had never heard of Seville until someone suggested going on this trip, but it is such a beautiful city! Saturday morning we got up and walked to the Alcázar of Sevilla, a huge Islamic palace. The architecture was amazing; I was in awe of everything I saw. My favorite part was the gardens, there was even a big maze you could walk through. There were peacocks wandering around and there was ivy everywhere (my favorite); it felt like I was in a movie, that’s how beautiful it was.

We then walked to the Cathedral de Sevilla,  which was probably one of the most beautiful and outrageous things I have ever seen in my life. It was HUGE! As students, we could go inside for just 4 euros (you just had to show them your student visa). I was amazed. We saw the grave of Christopher Columbus and climbed up 17 stories into the Giralda tower, which had the most breathtaking views of Seville. It was worth the climb.

For lunch, we ate Paella and had Sangria in a little restaurant near the cathedral. The food was so good and we were very hungry (because apparently, everyone in Spain eats all their meals really late) so we devoured our food. After lunch, we wandered the streets of Seville. This was one of my favorite parts! Everything was so colorful and the 60-degree sunny weather was a nice change from the 30-degree rain we left in Paris. We ended up near the Guadalquivir River, so we bought churros and just sat at the water’s edge for a while. It was beautiful, and a nice break after a day of walking.

That night, we ate tapas and met up with some girls from Clemson that are studying in Seville. It was fun, but I quickly learned that the Seville way of life just isn’t for me. Apparently, their nights begin at around 2 in the morning, and they stay out until 7 AM. I was proud (and completely and totally exhausted) when we stayed out until around 2:30.

On Sunday, we got up and started exploring again! We walked to the Metropol Parasol (AKA the giant mushroom), which is this HUGE wooden structure that spans blocks and looks vaguely like a mushroom. We took an elevator to the top and got to walk around on top of it, which was amazing! We had a great view of the city, and it was the perfect place to take a picture (or 50…). I’m not really sure what it was or why it was there, but I am not complaining because it was amazing!

After that, we made our way to the Plaza de España! When you google Seville, this is usually the first picture that pops up. It was beautiful, and I was extra excited because part of Star Wars Episode II was filmed there (so geeky, I know), so I was excited to walk where Anakin and Padme had once walked. The Plaza was huge and we spent about an hour just walking around in awe of the architecture.

Finally, we ended our trip by going back to the river and taking a relaxing boat tour! The seven of us got a boat to ourselves so we got to just float along the river in the sun enjoying the afternoon. It was warm enough to take off our jackets and just enjoy ourselves. We all agreed that we could not have ended our quick getaway in any better way.

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The gardens of the Alcazar de Sevilla

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Tomb of Christopher Columbus in the Cathedral

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The view across the river

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The view from the top of the mushroom!

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The Plaza de Espana!

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All 7 of us at the Plaza de Espana

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Our favorite part of the trip: the boat ride!

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We bring our Tiger Rag everywhere!

 

Needless to say, we had such a great time in Spain! Our first trip could not have gone any better. It made me so excited for all the other amazing cities that I am going to travel to in the next few months. I still cannot believe that this is all real and that I actually have to opportunity to do all of this. Thanks, mom and dad! Oh, and GO TIGERS!