After a LONG day of traveling I’ve safely arrived in the beautiful city of Sorrento Italy to begin my Almafi Coast trip with Bus2Alps (which was awarded #1 European tour!!). I’m already in love and I’ve only seen this place at night!
We arrived in Roma thinking we had an eight hour layover until Kate and I got the bus to Almafi, so we took the bus into Rome center with our fried Tory whose bus was leaving from there in only five hours (she accidentally booked a different pickup place from us). Not realizing until I after arrived-Rome center that this was where I stayed when I came to Rome back in 2010. It was really cool being able to recognize the area and return to my favorite cafe from my previous trip!
After lunch/dinner Kate and I went to drop Tory off at her bus2alps meeting point and we got super super lucky because the leaders told Kate and I we could just hope on this bus because in the end were all going the same place with the same company. It saved us the huge hassle of having to take the bus back to the airport and wait another three hours to get picked up. So we arrived here in Sorrento at the time our original bus was supposed to be leaving Roma.
Now I’m just relaxing at our hostel and trying to get some sleep before an early start (7:20 am) tomorrow morning, but I couldn’t be more excited!!
La Merce has officially begun and this is just one of the many amazing festival activities they have! After watching this light show live I was truly speechless—I don’t think the video does it justice, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I’m planning on going back tonight for a second show!
P.S. JUST HIGHLIGHT THE YOUTUBE LINK ABOVE AND PASTE INTO BROWSER—TO WATCH MY VIDEO FROM THE LIGHT SHOW!! (THIS WAS THE FASTEST AND EASIEST WAY TO GET THE VIDEO TO YOU GUYS)
I’ve already been in Barca for about three weeks now but I feel like I haven’t totally adjusted to the lifestyle here. It still feels like a vacation almost, not like my home for the next three months. I think once I get a weekly routine down it’ll start to feel more like home. There are some things I miss–which definitely isn’t helping my “lost” feeling. It’s all the simple stuff I take for granted back home like being able to pick up the phone and call home to check in. It’s reassuring to be able to do that or even just send a text. Since I don’t have wifi in my dorm my communication is limited to facebook, skype, and imessage only while I am at campus using school wifi. I relied on my phone so much back home that I almost feel disconnected now, like I’m on vacation because that is usually the only time I don’t have my phone. Also we don’t have TV–which is something I never thought I’d miss in a million years–but it would be nice to sit down and watch a show every now and then. TV websites are blocked outside of the US so I can’t watch on my lap top either. Luckily on of the girls I met here lives in an apartment a few metro stops away with a TV so I can always go there if I get desperate haha
Don’t get me wrong, I totally LOVE LOVE LOVE being here it’s just the little things like wifi, tv, and phones even that I miss and wish I had to make me feel more at home.
We have Monday Sept 24th off from classes for another celebration. This one is called La Merce and it takes place almost 24/7 all over the city starting Friday night until Monday. They really like their celebrations and festivals here! It’s suppose to me one of the most amazing events to experience in Barcelona so I’m excited I’m here to witness the events! I’ll keep you updated and post pictures soon 🙂
This weekend we did two amazing trips on Saturday. We began our day at Montserrat. A beautiful mountain top monastery here in Catalonia. It is the home of the Virgin Mary Sanctuary. It is also a place to hike with gorgeous views. I really enjoyed it but it’s safe to say I’m in love with Sitges!! Sitges is an AMAZING small quaint Mediterranean village which was our second stop of the day after leaving Montserrat. It is full of shops and cafes along the small streets only suitable for walking, and of course there is the beach! This is where I spent most of my time in Sitges. I loved everything about it from the white soft sand to the crystal clear warm water. We are planning another trip back next weekend (only 30 min train ride and 7 euro round trip!!) so we can explore the village and enjoy the beach some more. I’m excited to take my mom here when she visits I know she’ll love it plus that means I’ll get to go back again haha
It’s funny that Barcelona’s most famous building is only 60% complete and will not be fully completed until around 2030. Sagrada Familia’s construction began back in 1882 with the architectural designs created by Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s goal was to summarize the Christian religion and turn the bible into a building. The whole building is symbolism for something from the towers to the door ways. On top of Sagrada you will see a total of 18 towers (upon completion) of various heights. The twelve shorter towers Gaudi uses to represent the twelve apostles, the four taller towers represent the four Evangelists, the next represents the Virgin Mary and the last and tallest tower represents Christ himself. Gaudi truly thought of every detail when designing this church, even the layout of the church is in the shape of a cross. The amount of detail amazes me.
Sadly Gaudi died in 1926 without a quarter of the project being completed and during the Spanish Civil War his design plans were burnt in a fire. Luckily Gaudi also made models of what he wanted to church to look like upon completion which did not burn. So all construction after his death follows his architectural plans but not his art designs.
I’m lucky to live only 8 blocks away from such an amazing building and I’m looking forward to going back when my family comes to visit!
Original back entrance completed prior to Gaudi’s death and according to his art design and inside Sagrada (there’s 53 towers inside the church in representation of the 53 Sunday’s in a year)
Wednesday night my friends and I (Kate and Tory in pic above) attended a dinner party at this club called Shoko right down the street from us on the water and it was totally 100% FREE! It was one of the best meals I’ve had since I’ve gotten here too. From 10-12 Shoko had a buffet set up with everything from simple chicken and rice to sushi (you all know I’m picky but I did try everything! …and I liked it haha) On top of all the delicious food we got free wine and champagne for those two hours as well which was just as delicious!
After arriving we quickly discovered that in order to get the best deals and stuff for free (like this amazing dinner) you need to follow club promoters online/facebook who set up events like this one to attract kids, especially study abroad students, into the local clubs and bars by giving away and promoting deals like this one. This was one of the best nights I’ve had in Barcelona so far! We met lots of new students in different programs while sipping wine on the beach 🙂
Sadly my five day weekend (mini vacation) is over 😦 but it was AMAZING! I really really enjoyed the time off to relax and get to know the area. Basically my friends and I just spent the days exploring, going out, and catching up on sleep. We went on a cruise Friday evening around the harbor/beaches in our area. It was so much fun! They had sangria and wine on board for us, and after about an hour of sailing they anchored so we could swim and have dinner. It was cool to see the city sky line from this perspective. We also went to two really fun clubs this weekend. The first was Sutton, which has an old Hollywood theme to it and Aura Beach Club which is what the name sounds like right on the beach haha. We’re starting to get use to their hours of nightlife but we’re not fully there yet.
We finally made it to Las Ramblas! That’s this awesome downtown shopping area with amazing restaurants and vendors. I loved everything about it–it was hard not to buy everything from the vendors it was all so cool. You don’t really see locals there, its a tourist area and now I see why.
But you’re probably all wondering why I had a five day weekend after starting classes only three days before. Tuesday September 11 is Catalan’s national holiday (sort of like our 4th of July). So on Tuesday they were celebrating the success of the Catalan troops in the War of Spanish back in 1714. The streets were flooded with millions of people from all over Catalan dressed in the colors of the Catalan flag, singing, dancing and celebrating. This year there were also multiple political demonstrations as well where the people of Catalan voiced their unhappy opinions with the government and their desire to be independent from Spain.
Overall the day was a crazy and hectic one but it’s neat to look back and say I was able to experience this celebration with them.
Two pictures from Las Ramblas (Michael on the lion statue then a view of the water down at the Ramblas port)
A sky view of just one plaza in Barcelona to give you an idea of just how many people there really was!