For those of you who don’t know, I just recently came back from a two-week long trip through France, Spain, and Italy. Now you get to hear all about it.
The journey began on the 25th of April, with a train ride to Bratislava. All of us crazy exchange kids reunited at the train station in Bratislava, before departing on an 18 hour bus ride. 18 hours on a bus is brutal, but we all managed to survive. The fact that we were on our way to Paris didn’t hurt.
Once in Paris we checked into our hostel and began our first day. We had a walking tour with a cool British woman named Nancy, and then spent the afternoon in the Louvre. The next day we had another walking tour with a German woman (whose name I forgot) but was really funny and clearly loved the area. She showed us some of the places famous artists of the past hung out before leaving us at a beautiful church on top of a hill overlooking Paris. (Also forgot the name of the church. Oops.) That afternoon we went up to the Eiffel Tower (but I personally didn’t go all the way up.) It’s a very cool structure, but on a windy day it can be a bit scary. Finally, we got free time. Some of my friends and I decided to go back to our hostel and we got to wander around the streets of Paris at night by ourselves. Nothing is more liberating than exploring a city you don’t know with your friends, especially at night. This is a trend that would continue. The last day in Paris was spent at Napoleon’s Tomb, Musée d’Orsay, and Notre Dame. We then set out on a 14 hour bus ride to Barcelona.
Now we are in Barcelona! I wasn’t really looking forward to Barcelona. I figured it would be a good experience, but nothing special. I was completely wrong.
Barcelona is an absolutely amazing city. Unlike Paris, you feel like life actually happens in Barcelona. While there are tourists in a lot of places, there seems to be normal city-dwellers as well. The history of the city is fascinating, and it is still happening today with Catalan Independence movements. On our first day we had a tour guide named Erik from the U.S. He had mentioned that he did work with the homeless and also did tours like ours. I decided to ask him about it near the end of our tour, and I really liked his outlook on life. He did the tours to make some money, helped people as often as he could, all while living in a city he loved. I can definitely see myself living like that in the future.
We got lots of free time in Barcelona, and my friends could probably tell you that I ran around that city like a child. It was so exhilarating being able to make our own decisions and choose where we wanted to go in such a bustling city. We relaxed on the beach, got lost in the streets, spent some time in a park, went to the FC Barcelona Stadium, and made a lot of wonderful memories. I also got to see my friend who is from the same city in the U.S. which was great. I miss Barcelona dearly and can’t wait to go back. (Hopefully with my brother next time.)
Finally, Italy. I’m just going to cram all of Italy into one small section. We were in Rome, then Pompeii, Florence, and finally spent a few hours in Venice. I was the most excited for Italy, and while it is a beautiful country, it wasn’t my favorite. I think most of my other exchange students would agree that a lot of this is because we were all becoming sick and exhausted at that point, along with our tour guides not being as exciting as those in the past. But, I still enjoyed Italy. We got to see all of the things that we had only seen in history books, which is a bit surreal. Venice was probably my favorite city that we were in, due to its insane beauty. The whole time you look around and wonder, “How is this possible?” I’ll let the pictures talk for Italy… 🙂
Finally, I want to thank all of the people on EuroTour. A big thank-you to Rotary for allowing us to have this opportunity, and for organizing such a great trip. Another big thank-you to everyone who donated money to get me on this trip. All of your support means the absolute world to me, and I’m so happy that I was able to have this experience. And last but not least, thank you to my exchange family. I am incredibly grateful that I got to spend those two weeks with all of you. We have all made lasting memories, and I can’t wait to see you all again soon!