"Wanderlust" -- I'm in love with cities I've never been to and people I've never met... The best dreams happen when you're awake!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekend Warriors: London Edition!

Never knew I'd fall so in love with London so fast! Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Big Ben, Parliament, Tower Bridge! We even walked where the legends walked- The Beatles!! And last but never least, Harry Potter's Platform 9 3/4!

(Although I had a rough time attempting to figure out the Barcelona "Night Bus" at 3 in the morning for the first time..I still managed to catch the flight- 2 taxis and a giant headache later, haha.)

After our first steps off RyanAir, we ran through London to see the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace..backpacks 'n' all! We explored all over...including on top of statues, but they just looked like so much fun! I made a wish in the Victoria Memorial fountain and we fed a few duckies some cookies.

Next, we had to see the magnificent Westminster Abbey...the side reminded me of the Quidditch Arena in Harry Potter. We weren't able to go in because of the extraordinarily long line. No wonder, because of the events that have taken place there- the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton and the funeral of Princess Diana. From here, we got our first glances at Big Ben, Parliament and The London Eye! You can't actually tour either Ben or parliament, which is a little disappointing, but adds to the mystery! As for the Eye(ball) of London, we got Day/Night tickets so we could see it two different ways. Both times were spectacular, but sunset/night time really took my breath away! It simply put, looked like a postcard, and I had the best view in the entire city!! 

We needed a photo-shoot with The Red Telephone Box, which by the way, were scattered all over the city! You can actually make a phone call! I attempted to call back home to wish my brother a happy 25th birthday, but couldn't quite get it to work. It's the thought that counts, right? Haha! I did, however, have a couple delish desserts off the harbor in front of the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge!

The infamous Abbey Road known for the Beatles Crossing was a must-do! And we did just that, halting traffic and all! We looked like the real deal! Then off to King's Cross to run off to Hogwarts at Platform 9 3/4 where Harry Potter was filmed! There's a trick to this picture..but my lips are sealed! You have to go there if you want the know-how! 

 On Sunday, we went to St. Paul's Cathedral for Mass. I'm not sure I could have mass in a more captivating, divine church, unless it was in the Sagrada Família! The gold trim lined the entrances and arches in such a way that no matter how you looked at it, it was always shimmering. The architecture was mesmerizing from every angle- I could hardly focus on mass.

I'm sure I'll end up with time whiplash with all these cities, tomorrow is Amsterdam! But what a beautiful city London was! The people were overwhelmingly nice and always went out of their way to help you! We actually met one guy, Ray, who gave us a mini tour of the Tower Bridge around 10pm. He had overheard our typical touristic "lost map" syndrome, and give us tons of tips!! I truly think that if it wasn't for the expensive currency (pounds) that I would have found my 'place' in the world. I fell in London so fast that I just wanted to stay instead of coming home to Spain! 

This last picture is kinda funny. So since we had practically walked all of London, our feet literally wanted to detach themselves from our feet they hurt so bad. So every time we went to the Tube "Underground" we would sit on the escalators and Laura snapped a picture, lol. What goofballs! Great times in London! I will be back one day!!!

Monday, March 10, 2014


WOO HOO!!! I was sad and happy to see that we officially hit the half way mark! Soon enough I'll be wisped back across the pond to loving and very familiar arms of friends and family. Spain has become my temporary home and honestly feels like just the other day that I left my Michigan home with waist-high snow and below freezing temperatures with a jet trail! Looking back over all my pictures and adventures still amazes me with the places I have seen and always heard about.

One of my most recent escapades is the "Font màgica de Montjuïc" (Magic Fountain of Montjuïc). I took a couple snazzy pictures and a few videos, but of course, nothing could truly capture how encapsulating it is! It's a spectacular fountain show with synchronized musical water displays with the most beautiful aurora of colors, and what better place than in front of the National Palace?!

One of the things I really loved about this video besides obviously the music by Alphaville- "Forever young", is that you can really see how mammoth the fountain really is and it gave a nice array of colors!!  :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

South of France

Oh, where to start; the endless grape fields that span across hundreds of miles, the mountains that reach up into the clouds and castle-like buildings along the way. Over the weekend we visited 4 remarkable cities, each with their own personality- Narbonne, Toulouse, Carcassonne and Collioure.

Narbonne gave us high winds and left us with tangled hair, haha. It was quite windy here, but was still incredible to see original roads from the Romans. We went to the local fresh produce market- similar but much smaller than St. Joseph’s Boqueria in Barcelona. I got to try my first éclair, very delicious…highly recommend! On a funny note, there was a Sephora and I still had some chipped purple nail polish on, so I figured I would take it off there. Long story short…don’t try to paint your nails there, haha, at least not all of them!

Toulouse is the 4th largest city in France. Very much a city feel- lots of buildings, not a whole lot of open spaces. We saw a double decker carousel, Saturday produce stands along the streets and many locals enjoying the day along the canal (Garonne)! I’m not sure how much we walked in total in this city, but must have been very close to 10 miles, haha! Within the day and a half we had there we also enjoyed ourselves in the freshest apple juice and had spent a decent amount of time with hundreds of locals soaking up the sun and looking up at one of the bluest skies along La Garonne. That was probably my favorite part- so peaceful, no aspect of time, just appreciating life.

Carcassonne brings to mind two words- castle and Disney. An amazing sight to see was this colossal castle with snowcapped mountains in the background. It looked like something in the Disney movies, which I found out later, is one of the places Disney actually got their inspiration for some of their films with castles. We walked along the inner curtain wall, in the towers and peaked through square cut outs along the wall where cannons and guns were placed. There was an entire city within the walls- tons of shops and eateries!

Collioure, France is a seaside city that kisses the Mediterranean Sea! It contains the most outstanding views that will set you instantly in awe. You’re surrounded by mountains, red-tiled roofs, crystal clear waters and the aromas of the best seafood you’ll ever eat! We were only here for a brief period of time, but I wished I could’ve spent a couple extra years here! It was so serene.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Officially made it to Paris, France!! It still seems absolutely surreal! I knew I had one mission before I even took my first steps onto France ...I needed to see the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle at night. It has been one of my biggest dreams since I was a little girl.

We seen the magnificent Mona Lisa in the Louvre, which is one of the largest museums and historical monuments in the world! Visited Notre Dame, more famously known from Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame", or at least for me! Of course we had to indulge ourselves in escargot, duck, and macarons!  The food was pure perfection, and the service was quite good despite what we were warned! The waiters even helped us decipher the menus, haha! I did pick up a few phrases which really helped me out with the locals, probably helps having a French last name too!! The Love Lock Bridge was a must-see as well! The legend says that if you put a lock on the bridge and throw away the key, you will have an unbreakable love. Did I put one on? Heck yes I did! I was even able to put my lock for my boyfriend and I on the original bridge (which is quite difficult due to how many locks are there). Hopefully when we come back we might be able to find it!

And finally..we seen the Eiffel Tower. I will probably always remember seeing it for the first time as I rounded the corner and someone said "LOOK UP!" ...it took my breath away in an instant! I couldn't believe I was in Paris..THE Paris, with the Eiffel Tower right in front of me! I'll be honest, I had to tear just for a second! But then since we were oh so close, we HAD to reach the tip-top over 1,000 ft high (which for size comparison, is like stacking Lady Liberty 3 times!!) Now, being afraid of heights, I had to quickly get over the fact that I needed to reach the top! The elevator zipped us up faster than any elevator I had ever been on EVER! It probably had something to do with us being able to see the outside world get smaller and smaller. The view was incredible, you could see all of Paris! Some even toasted with champagne for 12 euro a glass!

Then, the night I had been waiting for- our last night!! We had a dinner cruise that left right in front of the Eiffel Tower. We were on our way...rather sprinting through the streets of Paris to catch our cruise when we decided to catch the next one. We all took a moment to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower glowing..when it magically began to sparkle!! Everything I had been waiting for!! All 20,000 lights flickered blue in the night- no picture or video could ever do it justice! It left me in awe for the entire 10 minutes, never taking my eyes away from it. I don't think I could even if I wanted to!

We seen the Eiffel Tower light up 3 more times before we left (it lights up every hour on the hour for only 10 minutes). Each time was nearly as amazing as the first. Nearly ran into a couple light posts because of how many times we would be walking and I would turn around to grab another glance.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Packages From HOME!

Sent with love!! One month in and already "goodie packages"!! My mom and brother sent me little treats and some much needed trinkets!

I was in dire need of shoe sole inserts as my feet were surely not prepared for the walking they needed to do everyday on these cobblestone sidewalks. Blisters the size of quarters were my reward for exploring the city, haha! They're doing much better and everyday I make it a point to see something new!

Lots of American items aren't very popular here. For example, I was for whatever reason, craving popcorn..and I couldn't find it! Once I did, it wasn't like the taste from home. So my mom snuck one pack in with the rest of the trinkets! Thanks Mom, haha!! I also seemed to have packed everything in my luggage except the essential trend setter- boots! So a pair of those also made their way into Spain for me!

Can't forget about Valentine's Day fast approaching! She even sent me a Valentine's card with a hand crocheted heart and stuffed puppy. I couldn't help but miss home a bit more on these days and feel closer at the same time. Thanks you guys for all the yummies and trinkets! <3

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Foreign and Fearless- One Month!

It's officially one month today that I have survived Barcelona, SPAIN!! Honestly, two weeks ago it felt like I had been here a month and a half if not more..but now..it feels like I just got here yesterday! Most people have been wondering about what Spain is like and what I find weird/strange and what I miss the most from being gone.

The taboo things: 
1.) The ever-famous "Siesta" time! It's typically a time between 2-4pm when the shops close and there is no school and everyone goes home to eat a very large lunch (comparable to our dinner) and then back to work until around 8pm. But because of this, dinner is served extremely late- between 9-10pm.

2.) Water!! Water is scarce here and is very precious, therefore very expensive. Showers are around 5 minutes..and certainly no more than 10! Far different from my half hour shower in the States! Also, when you go out to eat you always have to pay for the water- never free.

3.) Mentality. Back home, over 4,000 miles away, the mentality is "Live to Work" and success is measured by your paycheck, your car and the size of your house among many other material things. However, here it's much simpler and people "Work to Live". They revel in life more fully and simply than I've seen in most Americans. They never eat or drink on the go...ever. Even if it's a small espresso to a sweet dessert. After trying this out, and eating outside, not rushing my meal or my bill (which by the way you always need to ask for) I find that I enjoy my food and company so much more. Perfect opportunity to people watch too, haha.

4.) The amount of bread!! Every meal I've had so far has had some source of carbs- bread (baguettes are very popular), potatoes, rice, or noodles. Another peculiar thing is that the Catalans (northeastern part of Spain) rub their bread with a tomato. It's because when they first came to Spain they were extremely poor and hungry and the cheapest thing they could afford was stale bread that would fill them up, so they rubbed it with a cut tomato to make it softer. The tradition is still very strong..and my lunch baguettes all have tomato on them.

5.) Lastly, affection! PDA (Public display of affection) is very predominate and open here! When I say open..I mean wide OPEN! On the metro, waiting for the metro, waiting to cross the street, in stores, everywhere people are kissing and being intimate in a way that would be a little bit much in the United States. I'm not sure why, but I think it's because the 'home' is considered very private here- not meant for guests (most people go outside to get together).

Of course, I miss the people closest to me back home the most- I miss my mom, my dad, my brother, my boyfriend and friends!!! I wish they could see all the beautiful places I've seen and meet all these wonderful people along this journey! It has certainly been an experience for all of us this semester already! I also very dearly miss Jiffy peanut butter, a working hair straighter that doesn't blow the power, and good popcorn! Skype has at times tested my sanity because it pixelates images, breaks up conversations or drops the call..or honestly all of the above, lol.  Probably the hardest "homesickness" time was my returning flight from Paris (which I need to post a blog for very soon!). I was coming through the terminal to where everyone was waiting for people- like friends and family and taxi drivers with name cards. I couldn't help but tear up at the thought of how bad I wanted to see a familiar face and to run to open arms! From this moment alone...I know I am going to be a complete wreck when I return home, haha. I'm going to have tears rolling down my face and will have to remember to not wear much makeup that day!! But I can't wait to see what next month will bring! CHEERS TO ONE MONTH IN SPAIN! :)
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
-Saint Augustine

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Excursion to Girona & Figueres, Spain


In Girona, there is so much history and some of the most colorful buildings and alleys I've ever seen! Most of the streets were made of actual rocks and over time moss grew in between them. It's quite amazing! The cathedrals and legends there will definitely keep you entranced.

The legend says that whoever wants to be a good citizen in Girona and never leave town, or if one has to leave and come back again, you need to kiss the lioness butt. Guess I have to come back to Girona!!!

Then traveled to Figueres, Spain- about 20 minutes from the French border to see something that has always been on my bucket list...The Salvador Dalí Museum! It not only houses his original works, but Dalí himself created the museum!

One of the things Dalí did that is so intriguing is that there are no tours allowed. He wanted each person that came to have their own interpretation of his artworks. They ranged from melted clocks, whole rooms that made different faces, paintings of people made out of stone to even a piece that the further away you looked- turned into Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

La Comida (The Food)

One of the many things I have noticed being here so far, is that food is something to savor. No one has food or beverages, such as coffee on the go. I actually admire it! It's nice to sit down and enjoy the morning espresso and croissant or maybe even some helado (ice cream) in the afternoon. I feel that every bite gets enjoyed more because you take the time to enjoy it. Food here isn't about who can eat the fastest or about when you have to be across town... it's about not letting time control you and especially, relaxing in good company.

I went to a sandwich place called Bo De B (Boe-Deh-Bee) today, was probably the best place to get a sandwich in the entire world! I got a hamburger (served in Spain without the bun) and 'patatas bravas'. This small store plated the dish as if I was in a 5-Star restaurant on the Vegas Strip, and for only 7! Of course, I couldn't help but notice all the sandwiches leaving- absolutely filled to the brim with the freshest veggies in town and hand seasoned meat on a freshly made baguette. Definitely a store I will frequent many times in the next 4 months!! The Coke can was pretty nifty too!

Another highlight of the day- I tried my very first macarons! Let me just say..it was pure confection-y goodnessness! There were so many options, but I finally chose Coffee and Passion Fruit- had to try the best of both worlds! Very scrumptious! :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Metro- BCN

With such a bustling city, how does everyone get around? The Metro, of course! It's an underground railway system that runs under the entire city. There are several 'line colors'- yellow, red, green, purple (my line home), etc. The colors signify the certain route it takes. To get on and off the metro train you press a green button that is on the inside/outside of the door when it lights up. 

When I first arrived to Barcelona, it was a bit intimidating to say the least to try to figure out how everything worked!! But after roughly a week- I'd say I'm a pro... I guess I shouldn't mention that I got on the wrong train today, haha! What I love about my metro stop- Monumental, is that everyday I get to see the tip tops of La Sagrada Família! It's truly the simple things here that I'm going to miss so much when I leave. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

La Sagrada Família

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." 

I knew I loved the work of Antoni Gaudi..but I could have never been prepared to see his most prized work- La Sagrada Família! Nothing short of amazing with the colorful stained glass mosaics, columns that branch off like trees towards the ceiling and exquisite detail in every sculpture! He actually molded the animals out of living animals after they had been temporarily anesthetized, just to capture every possible detail. They estimate that the construction will be done in the year 2026, some doubt it will be done by then because they still have so much to add! Just three years ago, it didn't have a roof! It constantly changes everyday, except Sundays- which is for 'Siestas' (rest). Those are my favorite days! Haha. But in all honesty, I truly felt my breath get taken away several times during my visit, chills with how mesmerizing every blink was.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Escuela (School)

 The first day of class one of my professors gave us this quote: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ― Neale Donald Walsch. He also taught us that Barcelona in the Catalan language is translated as Bar (bar)- Cel (sky)- Ona (wave) and said "what a beautiful name for a city"..I couldn't help but think the exact same thing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

La Pedrera | Casa Milà

One of the most stunning buildings in all the world- La Pedrera! Built by one of my favorite architects- Antoni Gaudí. He used many different aspects for inspiration- pine cones, nautilus shells, a python skeleton, ears of corn, branches and much more. For the cabinet and door knobs he molded them by grabbing onto clay with his hands for a more natural feel. He was truly ahead in his time of understanding how light worked- larger windows for more light on the lower levels. With him, everything had a purpose.

With every blink..I feel I am falling head over heels with this city!