Well I promised you a full update, didn’t I? Here is part two of my recap of my adventures abroad during my spring break.
After my parent’s visit (which you can read all about here, if you haven’t already), my friends and I jet setted off on a vacation of our own. Our first stop was the island of Crete off the coast of Greece. In the city of Chania in which we stayed, it was just at the beginning of their tourist season. It was the perfect time of year to visit: all of the shops and restaurants were just starting to open, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and all the tourist had yet to arrive! Everywhere you look, there are beautiful mountains and gorgeous beaches. One day we even travelled to Elafonisi, home of the pink sand beaches. It was easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. My goal for this leg of the trip was to eat as much feta cheese and baklava as possible. This mission was very much a success: with all of the food being so incredibly fresh and delicious, every meal was better than the next. There is simply nothing like Greek hospitality. At every restaurant we went to, we were greeted with such overwhelming kindness and generosity. Even though we were only there for five days, it instantly felt like home.
The next leg of our trip brought us to Rome, Italy. There is such a sense of history in this modern city. Between the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Trevi Fountain alone, there is so much to see and experience. My personal favorite was the Spanish Steps (which were prominently featured in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, a classic). Pictures do not do the Sistine Chapel justice; it was simply breathtaking. My friends and I also made it a goal of ours to eat gelato once a day. One of our favorite stops was right near the Vatican, named Old Bridge. There was a line wrapped around the building, but it was totally worth it. Another culinary masterpiece we discovered when in Rome was a nutella calzone. Yup, you read that right. It was as amazing as it sounds.
Following Rome, we took a train to the beautiful city of Florence. This was by far my favorite place we visited over the course of our trip. Between the art, architecture, and overall feel of the city, it was both relaxing and exciting. Although I am definitely not the athletic type, my friends convinced me to make the trek up the 483 steps of the Duomo for 360 degree views of the city. It is definitely a must-do for anyone visiting Florence. Of course, you can’t go to Florence without going to the Uffizi Gallery, chock full of amazing paintings and sculptures. The highlight for me was the Boboli Gardens. Situated behind the Pitti Palace, it is a maze of greenery, fountains, and flowers. I can just picture it being a perfect setting for a rom-com. In sticking to our tradition, gelato was also a major part of this trip. The prize goes to Grom gelato for the best espresso flavor I have ever had. Florence is also a great place to shop, from high end stores to family owned boutiques, I was in retail heaven.
Finally, the last stop on our journey was the waterfront city of Venice. Being from coastal Maine, I was definitely having ocean withdrawals. Bridges, tunnels, and canals (oh my!) made this water-logged city that much more charming. And yes, the gondola operator (which, according to Google, is called the gondolier) does wear a striped shirt and a straw hat. The main piazza in Venice is called St. Mark’s Square, which is home to St. Mark’s Basilica, the Clock Tower, the Campanile of St. Mark’s church (the pointy tower), and Doge’s Palace. After wandering through both the Basilica and the opulent Palace, we took time to soak in the waterfront. Cafe culture is huge in Italy, and being the coffee lover that I am, it is ideal for me. Slowing down and taking time to enjoy the scenery and your company is what Italians do best.
If someone had told me last year that I would be travelling around Europe for my Spring Break, I would never have believed it. Much like London, Italy and Greece were places I only saw in movies. Actually getting time to spend in these countries was surreal. I feel very lucky not only to be in London, but to have the chance to travel as well. I also never anticipated making the friends I have made in London. Although we all come from different places and backgrounds, we have formed friendships that I know will last a lifetime. Despite not being together next year (and missing them all terribly), it also gives us an excuse to travel to each other’s universities in the States (I have already convinced them that UNH has simply the best dining halls in the country). But until then, it’s time to buckle down and study for my upcoming exams. After all, the next trip I will be taking will be back home.