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oh man, where to even begin with barcelona. well first off, i’m going to live there one day. guaranteed. i don’t care how long it takes me to learn spanish, i’m doing it, for at least a year of my life. it would be an amazing experience. i was only there for a three day weekend, and i instantly fell in love with it. here’s why…

first, our hostel was in a prime location. right off the main road in the city, los ramblas, we could literally see the crowds of people from the front door. amazing energy. so we got to barca at 11 PM on thursday night, and the place was justtt starting to get busy. the spanish really now how to have a fun night life. so we went out at like midnight after dropping off our stuff and freshening up, went for tapas and   sangria. then at like 1:30, the place was still going (little did we know it would continue to go till 6 am!) so we went to an irish pub to hang out for a bit. we met amazing people, (the spanish are really friendly in comparison to the italians) had great conversations, and maybe had a good beer or two. ;) 

the next day, friday, we decided that in order to see everything we wanted to see, we needed to take a bus tour. best 30 euros i’ve ever spent in my life! we bought a two day bus pass for one of those hop-on, hop-off buses, where you can sit on the open roof and see the city, while listening to headphones giving you information about sites. the first day we just road the whole route, took pics from the bus and mapped out what we wanted to actually get off at the next day. then we spent the late afternoon shopping. oh man, oh man, are european stores my weakness. i loveeeee all their clothes! i definitely dropped a pretty penny at my favorite store, MANGO, but i loved everything i bought, so it’s okay. :) 

the next day is when we actually got off at all the bus stops. we say some absolutely amazing sites. we went to a really pretty church at the center of the city (some pics have been posted of it) and also drove past gaudi’s famous familia church which is still under construction. gaudi was a famous architect in the early 1900’s who lived in barca. he was actually in the process of building this particular church when he was hit and killed by a tram in the 1920’s. luckily, he left all his blueprints, and now thanks to some private funders, the church is being built again all these decades later. and it is breath-taking.

we also went to gaudi’s park, in the north part of the city, which to me looks like a mix of hanzel and gretel and alice and wonderland. its pretty cool. in addition, we went to barcelona’s giant football stadium, and i reallyyyyy wanted to take a tour inside, but it was 30 euros. :( too expensive to justify for one tour. so i bought gifts instead! :)

finally, we ended at the beach, and it was beautiful. perfect white sand, pretty blue water, and palm trees! it was a perfect way to start the evening. after taking a quick nap, we went to dinner then went to a local bar near our hostel. there, we met this group of scottish guys who were the same age as us, also visiting for the weekend. we spent all night just hanging out with them, talking and swapping stories about scotland versus the states. before we knew it, the sun was rising! luckily we had an early plane, so we didn’t even bother going to sleep! we just packed up and went; running on pure adrenaline actually works! haha. it was easily the best night i’ve had in europe, hands down. great people, great conversation, great city. barcelona, i’ll be seeing you. soon. <3

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Okay, so now that i’m coming home this friday (!) i’m playing catch up with all my blog posts. next up - pompeii and mount vesuvius.

this was the first side weekend trip i took while in italy. and it was absolutely worth it. it was organized by my host university here in rome, the american university of rome, and we took a tour bus to the ruins. it was a long bus ride, but not as bad as the bus ride to cannes, france, as i’ll talk about later! the plus side? we got to stay in a real hotel outside of pompeii, with hot water and everything! (hot water is a real luxury in rome, especially in my apartment with six girls. hahaha.) 

we spent the first few hours there hiking mount vesuvius, which is the volcano responsible for destroying pompeii all those thousands of years ago. it was definitely a challenge, but so worth it once at the top. the view was beautiful and the idea of being at the top of a volcano was pretty cool too. 

the next day, we went to tour pompeii. seeing these ruins was definitely a highlight of my whole italian experience. we had a great tour guide, who was really informative. two really interesting (but sad) things i learned- many of the victims from the volcano eruption were preserved by scientists decades ago, because they were able to fill the cavities below the ash with cement. this preserved the exact shape of how the person died, and even captured the expression on their faces. many look terrified, and one is of a women holding her pregnant stomach tightly. it’s very eery. the other thing i learned, which is also sad but very interesting, is how exactly these people died. it was really the being buried alive part or being burned from lava; it was the fact that, when these people inhaled the air, with molten molecules in it, as soon as the particles hit their lungs, the temperature turned it to glass and these people died from internal wounds. they literally suffocated on glass particles that they didn’t even know were getting into their lungs. absolutely terrifying. 

besides the morbid stuff, pompeii was still very cool. they have one of the most preserved historic sites there, and that’s amazing considering it got hit with such a large volcano erruption. what i found most interesting was that the ancient city’s brothel is still in such good condition, you can still go inside it! once inside, you can see all the rooms with the stone beds in them, and above each doorway are amazingly preserved fresco paintings of the “services” you can receive in that particular room. i couldn’t believe that the building survived, let alone the paintings!

the last thing i thought was really cool was a “store” we passed by on what was the ancient main road. archaeologists believe the owner of this particular store used to sell hot food, because there are still perfectly in-tact terra cotta pots embedded in stone holders inside the building. they believe the owner would make food in the morning, and keep it hot all day by storing it in the pots, which had properties to contain heat. smart ancient italians, smart!

the last day in pompeii, we had a free beach day. it was a beautiful beach and i loved getting to just sit and relax; everything is so fast paced in rome! however, i did make a dumb move; i put sunscreen on everywhere, but forgot my stomach. then, i accidentally fell asleep in the sun, and completely fried my stomach. oops. well, at least it’s tan now? :P ciao bellas!

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the canals of amsterdam

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red light district, amsterdam 

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yachts in cannes. absolutely awesome.

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me, at the cannes lions international festival of creativity

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amazing fish soup in cannes, france

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cannes connect bar- basically a networking opportunity on the roof terrace of the palais with open bar. talk about a fun time!