Welcome to Caitlyn’s spring break recap! After a mere 8 weeks of classes, during which I spend 9 hours a week actually in class, we received a completely undeserved two week break to travel Europe. My life isn’t real. To begin… Italia!

ROME

Rome is awesome. Exhausting, but awesome. The best thing about it (besides the food, obviously) is that you’ll just be walking and then out of nowhere a hugely famous and historic landmark appears out of nowhere. For example…

Image Victor Emmanuel (unified Italy) monument

Image

The Colosseum! We also were invited by some Italians to take part in their Harlem Shake video, so that was normal. We haven’t been able to find the video yet though 😦

Image

New friends?

ImageMy sorority sister, Allison, and me in front of the Trevi Fountain! Our second meet-up that week- Dublin the weekend before, and in Rome a week later!

We also took a day trip to Pompeii, which is something I’d always wanted to do! I don’t even remember what grade I was in when I learned about it but for some reason I thought it was super interesting (my interest in tragedies and disasters is more than slightly concerning…) and hoped to see it one day. When I realized it was close-ish to Rome, I died of excitement and decided we had to go. It was a struggle to get there as I had stayed out way too late and was on my death bed (hi Mom and Dad!) and was absolutely no help to my friends as they tried to figure out the train system. However, we got there eventually and enjoyed beautiful weather in Pompeii and in the ruins!

ImageThis is my ecstatic to be in Pompeii/I finally don’t feel like death anymore face. Also I manged to get sunburned this day. Classic.

ImageRuins and mountains!

We also went to the Vatican, which was cool enough but the Sistine Chapel was closed and that was the part we really wanted to see… but it was closed for conclave so I guess that’s legit. Anything that gives me an excuse to go back to Italy! Our ticket also allowed us to go to St. Peter’s Basilica, and we trekked to the top for a great view…

Image

ImageSt. Peter’s Square and Basilica! And approximately one billion tourists.

FLORENCE

After a whirlwind 3 full days in Rome, it was off to Florence, my favorite city of the trip! Florence is way smaller and is just really charming and easy to navigate. I already can’t wait to go back someday. Highlights include…

ImageBrunelleschi’s Dome! After reading a whole book on its construction for AP Euro, I was so excited to see it in real life.

ImageView from the top!

Image

Illegal pictures of David

Image

Viewpoint where you could sit and see the whole city! We chilled there for a long time enjoying the sun and people-watching.

ImageSO MUCH GOOD FOOD! We went to several really delicious restaurants and kept getting free drinks with dinner, so… that was good.

VENICE

Easily the most unique city I’ve ever been in, and so pretty. I have talked to several people who LOVE Venice, and while I liked it, it wasn’t my favorite. Basically all you do there is go to St. Mark’s Square, maybe go on a gondola ride, walk around and buy leather and glass products, and eat a lot. So we definitely did all that, but I don’t think I’d ever need to go back.

ImageArtsy picture of gondolas

ImageExcited!

ImageVenice is home to some really weird night life.

MILAN

We spent one night and day in Milan before flying back to Dublin because the flight was so much cheaper it was comical. It’s a very urban city that didn’t necessarily feel that European, except for the people were well-dressed to be in the fashion capital of the world!

ImageEl duomo! Yes, another one.

ImageAnd yes, we climbed to the top! 400 stairs? No sweat.

And that more or less concludes my brief-ish summary! Italy is an awesome country with something beautiful to see around every corner. Just be prepared to walk a TON, which is much needed when consuming that much delicious pasta, pizza, wine, and gelato. Oh and I had gelato I think 11 times, so that was really healthy.

ImageThe cone was filled with chocolate. It changed my life.

DUBLIN

St. Paddy’s day in Dublin was definitely an experience, and not what any of us were expecting. Obviously, it’s mostly an Americanized holiday, made evident by the TONS of tourists in the city. Pretty much everyone I saw out and about that day was either an American tourist or an Irish high schooler trying alcohol for the first time. HOT MESS. Probably the  most amusing/embarrassing part is when we wanted Irish coffee with breakfast and were denied because it was a Sunday and they couldn’t serve till 12:30. Um, I think God would have made an exception just this once…

ImageIrish breakfast!

ImageAt the parade, which was also weird. Lots of abstract floats that no one seemed to understand…

I’m glad I got to experience the day in Dublin, but I would strongly dissuade anyone thinking of traveling to Ireland specifically for St. Paddy’s. Stay in Chicago where drunk Irish Americans belong 😉

BERLIN

Off again for spring break part two! I really wanted to go to Berlin for the history there, and luckily I had my chance over break. As anticipated, there was lots of history, along with more delicious food. Berlin is a huge city that’s very spread out. Between that and the snow, I felt like I was in Chicago!

ImageMemorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe, or the Holocaust Memorial. I learned about this in a Holocaust class I took sophomore year and honestly never thought I’d see it in person, so I was super pumped. It’s abstract on the outside because its creator believed traditional memorials were not effective reminders of the brutality that took place. It’s not supposed to symbolize anything specifically, but it looks like a bizarre cemetary. Unfortunately, due to the snow and our inappropriate footwear, we didn’t walk through, but instead visited the underground display. There, there is a Room of Dimensions explains the vastness of the Holocaust and breaks down the number of deaths by country. Next a Room of Families has notes and letters that were recovered, and finally a Room of Names plays a recording of every known name and a short bio of each victim. It would take over 6 months to read all of them out loud. This stop was obviously somber, but I’m so glad I got to see it.

ImageCheckpoint Charlie, the crossing point of the Berlin Wall for Western allies crossing through. I had literally forgotten everything I learned about the Cold War so this memorial was a great refresher.

ImageMore Berlin Wall!

ImageTop of the TV Tower, the tallest and most pointless building in Germany. Seriously, this building is only home to a skybar and a revolving restaurant. Super cool but I never figured out why the built it.

BRUGE

After an EXTREMELY long day on various trains from Berlin, we finally made it to Bruge, Belgium, which might be the cutest city of all time. You can walk basically the entire thing and we saw all there was to see within about 6 hours. Also, the food in Belgium is actually unreal. Like better than Italy. Amazing waffles, chocolate, and fries!

Image Bell tower in the market square

ImageNaturally we went to the top. This was the fifth tower I climbed to the top of over break. So many stairs!

ImageThey call Bruge the Venice of the North!

BRUSSELS

Last stop of the trip! I was prettyyy much exhausted at this point and the weather was god awful, so we only spent a few hours out and about. The highlight was probably a little food crawl we went on- waffles, sandwiches, fries, and a chocolate. It’s honestly a miracle my clothes still fit after these two weeks. Good thing we walked incessantly!

ImageAtomium structure thing. No clue why it exists.

ImageI have no words for the amazingness of this waffle.

ImageOr these fries.

ImageThere’s a famous statue in Brussels called Mannekin Pis that is literally just a 60 cm statue of a little boy peeing. I don’t even know. We didn’t see the actual one, so I’ll leave you with this chocolate version.

THAT’S A WRAP

Anddd that concludes my absolutely crazy spring break 2013! 8 cities, tons of food, one billion miles walked, and countless laughs and memories. I can’t imagine another time when I’ll have two weeks to do whatever I want in Europe, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity, as well as for my amazing parents who have provided everything I need for my study abroad experience. I can’t believe that I was once the little girl who got homesick at sleepovers and had to go home, and now I’m here on this unreal adventure. Life is grand! Thanks for sticking with me through this long post; hope you enjoyed it!

Advertisements