Saturday, December 31, 2011


I'm home!
I still have quite a few last adventures to share though, so I'll be posting intermittently until I'm up to date.

Thank you all for you well wishes, support and prayers for safe travel!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Granada, Spain

Granada was one of the last moorish strongholds in Spain and has retained quite a bit of North African influence.  When mixed with traditional and modern Spanish culture, it truly is a unique type of beauty.  Also, hellllo awesome shopping.  

Something I keep noticing across Europe is the mixture of old and new.  Constantly seeing a cathedral from the 1400s or an ancient Roman amphitheater right in the middle of a modern city is so mind blowing to me, having grown up in what is technically a "new" country.  In Granada we visited the cathedral that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (among other Spanish royals) are buried in, as well as the Alhambra, an incredible Moorish fortress/palace.  

Our study abroad group surprised us with a private flamenco show!  The location we went to was obviously very old, very unique, and very Spanish.  Experiencing this Spanish tradition for the first time was actually really cool.  I couldn't stop taking pictures.

Below are pictures of the Alhambra, a moorish fortress that is still standing- and beautiful- today. Notice all the fountains- they were everywhere.  The guide told us that they try to maintain the palace's condition as close as possible to the original.  INCLUDING the fact that NONE of the fountains are automated.  All of them run on the ancient pressure/aqueduct system they were built with. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

So behind... London, England!

A few weeks ago, I headed to London to spend the weekend with my friend, Sara, who is studying just outside of the city in this little town called Twickenham.  

Even though the weekend was super short and went by way too fast, it was super fun to spend some time with her and to see some popular London sights!

We usually just have toast and coffee for breakfast, so getting a giant English breakfast was wonderful! And yes, those are baked beans! 

On the second day, we headed to Windsor Castle, the Queen's weekend residence that's about an hour outside of London.  As per my usual luck, we had the wrong tickets for the particular train that we rode, and had to pay a little extra (it has happened 3 times since then...) But other than that, Windsor was one of my favorite part of the weekend.  We got to tour some parts of the castle, along with the chapel where English Royalty is buried.  

I was a little disappointed that there were no red coated soldiers, but found out later it was because they wear thicker gray coats in the colder weather.  Also, notice the giant machine gun!  Super intimidating...

Of course we had to head to Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station for a picture.

Buckingham Palace! Although it was MASSSSSSIVEEEEE, I was expecting it to look a little less like the white house (in reference to the color and columns)

Another one of my favorite parts was visiting the Tower of London.  Although the entry fee was steep, (close to $30 American dollars!!) the tower contained The Crown Jewels (you had to stand on a moving walkway to see them so that you didn't look for too long...) The Bloody Tower, a chapel in which all who were executed at the tower are now buried, and the tower in which high priority prisoners were kept.  They actually had stone carved graffiti from some of the prisoners still intact on the walls!  It was eerily cool, but a little sad at the same time, since we now know what happened to many of those people.  

A big giant thank you to my lovely friend Sara who was a super awesome host, tour-guide, and companion during my trip!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Guys... That's the Eiffel Tower- Paris Pt. 2

So I kind of have a little love affair with the Eiffel Tower.  As in, for some reason I'm so entranced by its beauty that I have a lamp, necklace, picture frame, etc all depicting the famous monument... And that was before I visited France.  

I can't even begin to describe the real Tower.  The construction of it is actually a lot less dainty and pretty than I thought, and in the daytime its kind of a brownish steel color- but there's still something so gorgeous about it.  And at night, whew, took my breath away.  The entire tower lights up, but then literally sparkles for the first 5 minutes every hour.  I tried to upload a video of it at the end of the post, but I've never uploaded a video to blogger before so we'll see how that goes.  Also, it's sideways.  I wasn't thinking about camera orientation when I was watching the lights, lol.  

Anyways, the first night in Paris Sara, Bernadette and I enjoyed (tolerated is probably a better word) a cheap bottle of wine under the lit up tower.  Definitely one of my favorite moments in Europe thus far.  

The next day we just walked around, taking it all in.  Pictured below is a cafe named Tennessee (!!) the Arc de Triumph, and a few other pretty sights.  

One more Paris post left!