Top places, top photos

Ciao everyone!

I’ve been absolutely MIA from my blog for the past few months, but I’ve been busy traveling all around Europe.

This past week, I had emergency surgery to remove my appendix which was an absolute shock to me and my family. I just came back from a 12 day vacation to Paris, Nice, and Barcelona and was just about to pack up and head out again for the Amalfi coast- but sadly I didn’t make it.

The day before I ran off to the hospital, I was working on a blog post about Rome, but I’ve decided to save that for later. This whole week, I was pretty sad because I realized I never actually got to see Italy during my time here. I got a Moroccan bacterial infection that caused me to miss my trip to Tuscany and Siena and my appendix caused me to miss  the Amalfi coast and my final international trip to Croatia too.

However, after giving myself some time to get over missing my last few trips of the semester, I reflected on all of the amazing places I did get to see and experience this semester.

This summer, I’ll be writing posts about individual places, but I’ve decided to give you all a preview of my favorite places. I am selecting a few pictures from each place that were either my favorite parts or will be the best memories. Enjoy!

My Trips:

Week #1- Venice, Italy

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My first amazing Italian sunset

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A panoramic view (sort of) of Venice from the top of the bell tower in the main piazza

My favorite part about Venice was the windy streets and the water everywhere. The streets were not more than 4 feet wide, and sometimes they were just dead ends that led to the canals. The bridges and canals were absolutely beautiful and this was a great first trip.

Week #2- Interlaken, Switzerland

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Skydiving over the Swiss Alps

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An early winter morning at lake Brienz

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Kayaking on Lake Brienz

Switzerland was my first trip outside of Italy and it was definitely a trip outside of my comfort zone. On this trip, I tried so many new things and things that I’m scared of. If you know me, you know how much I hate deep water, so kayaking was big for me. However, the craziest thing I’ve done all of abroad was definitely skydiving and I 10/10 recommend!

Week #3- Madrid, Spain and Toledo, Spain

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About to walk over the bridge leading us to Toledo

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A view of Madrid during sunset from the old post office in the town center!

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The outskirts of Toledo

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Possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Iberian ham covered with cheese over toasted bread.

At first, Madrid was not exactly top on my list of places to visit. However, it turned out to be one of my favorite cities. The food was amazing and there was an exciting vibe flowing through the city. Toledo was only a 30 minute train ride away and it was a different kind of beautiful. It was green and had rivers flowing all around it. Overall, these are two of the places I’d really like to return to if I ever go back to Spain.

Week # 4- Florence, Italy

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Meeting up with pals, new and old, during my trip!

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View from the top of the bell tower in Florence. Yes, the big dome is the famous Duomo.

Florence is a very beautiful, artsy, and quiet city compared to Rome. Everything is walking distance and there are more cool attractions than you first think. Climbing 400+ steps to see the panoramic view of the city was amazing and worth the 15 euro for the pass to do that and other museums included in the ticket.

Week #5- Rome, Italy

Week #6- Marrakech, Morocco

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Another amazing sunset in Morocco. You could hear all of the calls to pray going off as the sun was setting!

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Just me and my camel pal

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A very mentally challenging, but worthwhile hike up a Moroccan mountain

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Enjoying some bread in rural Morocco during our stop during our ATV tour through the desert! (You can see the dirt on my face)

Morocco was hands down my favorite place that I went to during my study abroad experience. The food was AMAZING (even though I did get a bacterial infection from it oops). Morocco is a place that is absolutely nothing like Europe or America and it was amazing to see how differently people lived. The buildings, landscapes, and architecture was something that I had never seen before and I cannot wait to some day go back.

Week #7- Rome, Italy

Week #8- Brussels, Belgium

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The main square in Brussels. All of the buildings symbolize workers guilds and are covered in gold.

Brussels, especially its food and its city center was a truly amazing surprise. From waffles, to fries, to chocolate, to beer, it was all amazing. One of my favorite things was our Sandeman beer tour that we did (highly recommended). This tour wasn’t amazing because of the beer (although I did discover my love for Lambic Sours), it was great because we met people from Tel Aviv, Peru, Germany, and Australia. It was amazing to all talk about our travel experiences and the different places we are from. Overall, Brussels is probably my favorite “city” trip of abroad.

Week #9- Athens, Greece

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Plaka, an old neighborhood in Athens where we stayed

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Athens street art

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The Acropolis! 

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The Olympic Stadium

Athens was a cool city that I was lucky enough to take my mom to when she came over. We stayed in Plaka, at the bottom of the Acropolis. We saw a lot of the main touristy things and did a great walking tour. The food was great here and the weather was so nice I got sunburnt in mid March!

Week #10- Dublin, Cliffs of Moher, and Galway Ireland

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Smiling because we got extremely lucky and had a beautiful day at the cliffs!

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Guinness Factory Tour with Jack, Marissa, and Courtney!

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Offbeat Donuts- These are the best donuts I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

Ireland was one of the places that was on the top of my list. About 75% of my family is from here and my name is Irish. No, I didn’t meet any Shana’s but I did find Butler’s Chocolate store so I’m glad my family is involved in a great industry over here. The people were so friendly and the food and beer was AMAZING. The live music at the pubs was out of this world. We were blessed with a sunny weekend (crazy right) and enjoyed walking around the cliffs and listening to street music in Galway for a few hours!

Week #11 and 12- Spring Break!

Stop 1: Paris, France

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Sunset at the Louvre before we went to see the Mona Lisa

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The Eiffel tour after a rain storm!

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My first Macaroon 

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Arc de Triomphe

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Fooling around in the Gardens at the Palace of Versailles

Before I came here, I heard that you either like it or you don’t- well I definitely did. The rain was on and off here the entire time but that didn’t stop us. We saw the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Versailles, etc. We ate amazing food and it was a great city to kick off spring break!

Stop #2- Nice, France and Monte Carlo, Monaco

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Breakfast in Nice

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View of Nice beach from our Airbnb

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Sam and I outside of the Monte Carlo casino (yes we lost some money)

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Exploring Monte Carlo and loving the beautiful weather

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A marina in Monte Carlo

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All of us enjoying gelato!

Nice was so different because it was a beach town. There was a long boardwalk with restaurants and shops right along the beach. It was also a 20 minute train ride to Monte Carlo where we spent one afternoon. Sam and I met up with our friend Trevor and his friends who were backpacking through Europe for the month of March.

Stop #3- Barcelona, Spain

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FC Barcelona game- Messi scored a hat trick!

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Tapas!

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Stained glass in the Sagrada Familia

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Hot dogs and beer- keep it simple

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At the highest point in Park Guell

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Loving spring in Spain!

Overall, Barcelona was definitely not my favorite city. However, when we were settled in we went to a lot of cool sights like the 1992 Olympic Stadium, Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, and an FC Barcelona game. We also hit the beach and got some great food. Our favorite food just so happened to be hot dogs and donuts. We are the picture of health!

Wow! If you made it to the bottom, thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed this post and stayed tuned for more- coming soon!

Videos of trips and more food pics can be found on my instagram handle (and soon coming to Youtube)- @foodie.impasta

Ciao for now!

~Shana

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