Greece

I made it to Greece! I am so excited to not have to eat pasta and pizza for every meal! The food of Greece is amazing so I can’t wait to try everything (Greek salad, falafel, gyros, baklava)! To get to Greece we took a 17 hour ferry from Naples to a town called Patra. The ferry was actually so much better than I expected. Our room was tiny but we made do with what we had! It was so fun to just hang out with everyone in my group enjoy each other’s company rather than running from place to place. I also got one of the best night sleeps because I loved the rocking of the boat. The 17 hours went so much quicker than I thought and we safely arrived in Greece! 
  
Our first stop in Greece was to an adorable restaurant off the beaten path call Clovino. The restaurant was right on the water and had great food! The staff was extremely Greek and so kind to all of us! We even had some time to layout and jump in the see when we were done eating. It was the perfect start to our Greece trip. 
  
Next stop was Delphi, an extremely small but adorable town up in the mountainside of Greece. We only stayed in Delphi for one night but we had a great time checking out the ruins and eating all the gyros we could ever want! 
  

 The next morning we were off to our last city of the trip, Athens. Athens was not at all what I expected. For a city with so much history expected it to be beautiful and a more enjoyable city to be in. However, I quickly learned that athens wasn’t really for me. Roughly half of the Greek population lives in Athens so the city is extremely crowded and overpopulated. The city also remind me of some sort of scary metropolitan area back in the states. There is graffiti everywhere and tons of people sitting in the streets.  

    Our last day in Greece was wonderful. Our guide, Tyson, took us to a beach on the coast of Greece. We hung out there for hours swimming, eating Greece food, and just enjoying each other’s company. We were all sad to leave! That night we all went to our farewell dinner at a rooftop bar in the city. The food was classic Greek and could not have been a better last meal. Afterwards we all went up to our hotel bar to exchange goodbyes and tell our favorite stories from the trip. It was a wonderful goodbye to the 34 friends I made over these past eighteen days.      All this being said, I still had a wonderful time eating a the Greek food (it was about time for some veggies after all that pasta in Italy) and exploring the beautiful Parthenon. Our hotel was definitely one of the better ones we have stayed at this whole trip. The wifi was at least decent and it had a rooftop bar that overlooked Acropolis! In the end, I really enjoyed my few days in Greece. While I don’t plan on returning to these same cities, I hope to make it to the Greek islands at some point! 

Now that I’m sitting in an airport waiting for my flighty to leave, I can finally reflect on these past eighteen days. I have absolutely loved being able to travel again. Traveling is so exciting and adventurous and I can’t imagine my life without it. I can only hope I have the means and the time to do it in the future. This time around I had a wonderful guide and a great group of friends that I will miss dearly once I return to the states. But now it’s time for my next adventure! While I am sad to leave, I am thrilled to return to the land of Target, fast food, and a good wifi connection. For my family members who read this blog, thank you for following me on another one of my adventures! Until next time!
Cheers! 

Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii

I didn’t realize we were going to Capri or Sorrento but they turned out to be my favorites. Capri is gorgeous. This is an island off the coast of Italy where many rich people and celebrities are known to vacation. We are so lucky we got to go there! There is lemon themed stuff everywhere, which I absolutely love. We had a lemon slushy when we arrived and I got one later when I needed wifi from a cafe. Afterwards I went and sat on the beach with everyone. It was such a beautiful area to spend some time in. Somewhere in the middle of the day we went on a boat cruise all around the coast. It was beautiful because the water is so clear and blue there! It was extremely cold and a little rainy by then but nothing we couldn’t handle. 

        Soon enough it was time for us to leave and head for Sorrento. I really love Sorrento. It is basically a beautiful and more affordable Capri. We really didn’t get to do anything besides eat dinner and sleep there but I am still so glad we went. I hope I can vacation there in the future. I also hope I don’t have to stay in a weird extra building of the hotel with no wifi ever again haha.

  

 The next day we left for Pompeii. Traffic was terrible but we finally made it. The town is completely run down and not pretty to look at. We took a tour through the ruins but I didn’t care it a whole lot. There wasn’t much to see and we were all just starving so we were ready to get out of there. It was cool to see the dog and people who died in the lava (that’s not as bad as it sounds) and the volcano that erupted. 

We finally left and now I’m stuck on a bus for four hours. Once we get to Barry we will be getting on a ferry for 17 hours. It should be interesting. Well that’s all for now! I’ll write more when I’m in Greece. Chao for now!

Rome

Chao from Rome! This city is stunning an full of so much history! On the night we arrived our group went to visit the Colosseum, pantheon, the Roman Forum, and so many other landmarks. It blew my mind how these city was essentially built around all of these beautiful landmarks. 
The Colosseum is one of the coolest structures I have ever seen. It’s strange to think that it was used as a massive stadium for people to fight in. Our group decided to watch Gladiator while on the bus on the way to Rome, which gave me better perspective as to what may have happened there! 
  

  

   
The next day was one of my favorite days we have had on this trip. I signed up for an option foodie experience and boy am I glad I did! Our group first went to a wonderful Italian market and tried all different types of Italian pesto, balsamic, olive oils, and lemonchello. The food was amazing and it was fun to be right in the middle of the market! Soon after we headed over to our Italian cooking class! The class was even better than I expected. The class was taught in a beautiful apartment in the heart of Rome on a rooftop terrace. Doesn’t that sound like a dream? Our wonderful a chefs taught us how to make pasta and sauce from scratch and we were able to eat it at the end! It was some of the best pasta I have ever tasted!
  

   Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, we all hopped on a bus to Saint Marinella, a small beach town on the coast of Rome. This is also the home of our wonderful guide, Tyson! We spent the entire afternoon sunbathing on the coast of Italy and eating wonderful food from tyson’s friend who owns a local restaurant. The day could not have been more perfect.  

 Yesterday was an extremely busy day! Our group woke up extra early to go to the Vatican to see the pope. While we were still far away, it was co to see him in the distance giving his regular Wednesday speech. After listening to the pope we headed over to the Vatican Museum, which is full of religious paintings, sculptures, and the famous Sistine Chapel. The chap was unreal. I don’t know how else to describe it. The ceiling was massive and the paintings by Michelangelo were so beautiful and vibrant. I could have looked at the beautiful ceiling forever. It’s hard to believe that Michelangelo spent four years looking up at an awkward angle to paint the entire ceiling. My neck hurt after looking at it for twenty minutes! I wish I could show you pictures but unfortuntely pictures are not allowed!

    

  Afterwards we went to Saint Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. It was beautiful and full of so much history. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.    

 That’s all for now! Cheers!

Firenze

So far Italy has been a dream that has exceeded all expectations. I was so upset that I was not able to go while I was abroad so I am thrilled I get to spend about a week exploring Italian cities. On Friday we arrived in Florence, one of the most Classic Italian cities. We arrived later in the evening so we didn’t have much time to do anything but go grab a quick bite to eat before bed. We went to a place called the central market, which is basically multiple little restaurant stands with a large bar in the middle. My first meal in Italy of course so amargarita pizza! It was delicious!
The next day we were up bright and early to see the famous David statue. While I am not really one who appreciates art, the statue was extremely impressive. I was so in awe of how beautiful and large it was. That statue is about 14 feet tall! 
  
Afterwards our group met up with a local guide for a tour of the city. Florence is absolutely beautiful.
When the tour was finished we went on a mission to find authentic Italian food. Four of us stumbled upon an adorable pizzeria with an adorable owner named Alessandro. Alessandro opened the restaurant about thirty years ago! He was so wonderful to all of us girls and gave us the best service we could wish for. Sticking with the Italian theme, i chose a ham and mushroom pizza. It was bigger than my head but you better believe I finished the whole thing! 
      

  

That night we went deeper into Tuscany for a wine tasting at a local vineyard. We saw how the wine was made and they fed us so much wonderful along with a ridiculous amount of wine. It was such an incredible experience and a wonderful way to hang out with my friends!
     

Today has been one of my favorite days of the whole trip. My group went on an excision to Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful and and popular coastal towns to visit in all of Italy. Cinque Terre is made of five different neighborhoods, three of which we went to. We first started off in Monterozza a quaint but beautiful town. Here my group rested up and grabbed some food before our big hike! In order to get to the next town, Vernazza, our group decided to take a 1.5 hour hike through the hills around the coast. This hike was so exhausting and incredibly challenging. There were so many stairs and things to climb but it was all worth it! Unlike those who took the metro, we were able to see the beautiful ocean and surrounding towns the entire way! Once we finished our hike, we treated ourselves to a wonderful pasta lunch. Before we knew it, it was time to move on to the last town, Manarola. This town was the smallest (it only has one main road) but has amazing cliffs to relax and enjoy the view on all day. But enough of me blabbing on.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking!
  

   

 

       It’s hard to believe I am about hallway done with this trip. I am loving all the friends I have made and the adventures we get to share together. As for what’s next, tomorrow we will be leaving bright and early for Rome but stopping at some small cities along the way. Afterwards, we will move onto other small towns in the south of Italy before going to Delphi and Athens! I’ll try to write a post in a few days.

Cheers!

Paris: Take Two

Bonjour! I am currently writing you this post from a small cafe in the southern part of Paris. Don’t I sound fancy and sophisticated? (Disclaimer: there is a huge communication barrier and I was an awkward American that ordered in English. So maybe not super sophisticated). It is wonderful to be back in Paris. It is very comforting to return to a city with great food and a relatively easy metro system.

Before I talk abut Paris, I should mention that we stopped in Brussels along the way strictly for food. The country is known for mussels, chocolate, and waffles. I am proud to say I ate them also. I also took some pictures with the famous “mannequin piss” statue which is oddly displayed throughout the city. I don’t get it but the people of Brussels seem to love it.
   

 

We arrived on Tuesday and the days have been full of Parisian activities. On our first night in town we ate at a local cafe, visited the town of monmarte and the famous sacre coer, followed by a wonderful evening at the cabaret. The cabaret was mostly in French with a little English here and there, which I know all of us lost Americans appreciated. The show was full of signing and dancing, juggling, acrobatics, and so many other random things. It was a night full of laughter and great friends so I am extremely happy that I chose to attend. 
   

 

The next day we started off with a full tour of Paris. As someone who has been to Paris before, it was nice to relax and simply enjoy the tour rather than freak out about getting the perfect Eiffel Tower picture. After our lovely tour the rest of the afternoon was free. I decided to explore parks and different neighborhoods throughout Paris (hence the wine at a cafe). While at the cafe, I overheard two Americans speaking and decided to introduce myself. Turns out they were born in Indiana and went to IU. What are the odds? It was so wondering to sit at the cafe with them for a while and learn about their new lives in Paris. Taking the afternoon to myself and wondering the streets of Paris made me realize that I am wondering the streets of PARIS, the city so many can only dream of going to. I feel so incredibly lucky. Shoutout to the family for their support and letting me go back to Europe again!
  
After my mini adventure my group met at the Eiffel tour for dinner and a wonderful boat cruise down the seine river. Our tour guide, Tyson, was awesome and bought all of us bread, cheese, and all the typical French snacks. Soon after eating we all went up into the Eiffel Tower, which had an amazing few. After hanging out near the tower for a few hours, we headed over to our boat cruise. This was such a wonderful view of the city but I recommend it to anyone going to Paris for the first time!
   

     

On our last full day in Paris, we went to the Louvre and Notre Dame. Notre Dame was just as beautiful as I remember from my first visit. The Louvre completely exceeded my expectations. While I do not really understand art, the building itself was gorgeous and fun to walk around for a bit. After we shoved our way through the crowd to get r perfect Mona Lisa picture, a few of us headed out to the Jardin de Tuileries (garden outside the Louvre) to eat lunch and finish the afternoon. 
  
Later in the evening I was lucky enough to meet up with my friend, Marie, who I met while abroad in Scotland. It was so great to catch up with her and it was like we never split up! I feel so fortunate to have friends all over the world!
  
While I have loved Paris the second time around, I am thrilled to leave for Florence! I can’t wait to start my Italian adventure. That’s all I have for now but I’ll write back in a few days!
Cheers!

Second Time Around

I’m back! I am so thrilled to be back in Europe and I am loving the adventure already! This time around I am traveling with a group called EF College Break, which is a group for recent college grads. My group is extremely nice so far. That majority of the people in my group are from New York so it has been fun to get to know them and represent the wonderful midwest! 

Our first stop and my current location is Amsterdam, the Netherlands. While I had no expectations coming into this city, I absolutely love it. This city has the most beautiful architecture that walking around it never gets old. There are two things that are really distinct about Amsterdam: the bikes and the canals. Both of these are EVERYWHERE. There are hardly any roads in this town because almost everyone is on a bike. The bike lanes look exactly like sidewalks and can easily be confused. The biker do not stop and will gladly hit tourists. I would know because I have almost been a victim to their attack on mutie lr occasions. The canals are beautiful and you can just one around just about every block. Pretty canals=lots of pictures. See below.

    

For sake of time, I’m going to leave you with a list of honorable mentions:
1. The Anne Frank house- it was incredible to walk through this house and see Anne’s journal come to life. I highly recommend going here when in Amsterdam!

2. The Pancakes: amsterdam is known for their pancakes (they are honestly more like crepes) and they are totally worth the hype.

 
3. The Red Light District-  an interesting neighborhood full of interesting decisions.

4. The Amsterdam Sign- typical tourist picture that had to happen. Disclaimer: letters are harder to climb than they appear!

  
That’s about it for amsterdam! Tomorrow we leave for a quick stop in Brussels (obviously for food) and then off to Paris!  

Cheers!

   

People Make Glasgow

People Make Glasgow. This phrase has been showcased on billboards and taxis all over the city since I arrived in January. At the time, this phrase didn’t really mean much to me. Now after being here for four months, this phrase means everything. The people I have met while in Glasgow have absolutely made my experience and without them I know that I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time here nearly as much as I did. I find it absolutely amazing that I have become so close with people from all over the world in a matter of months, which is exactly the beauty of exchange. Even though I was nervous to arrive in Scotland many months ago, the transition was very easy because everyone was so eager to make friends. Who knew that first night at an exchange student mixer that I would meet my best friends for the semester?  I am so thankful that I went to the mixer rather than sleeping after being up for over twenty-four hours!

Saying goodbye to my friends and this city has been more challenging than I thought. After living in Glasgow for four months, this place has really become my home. To celebrate my wonderful semester, I hosted a big going away party at my flat. It was so wonderful to have all of my friends in one place!

My amazing roommate and our wonderful friend Helen

My amazing roommate and our wonderful friend Helen

Three Americans and a Kiwi

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This entire weekend has been filled with goodbyes and lots of long walks around the city so I could appreciate the streets that called home these past few months one more time. I even took one of the tourist bus tours around Glasgow just for fun! I really am going to miss this place. Choosing to go on exchange in Glasgow was the greatest thing I could have ever done for myself. As someone who enjoys being in her comfort zone, it was so exciting and refreshing to travel to an unknown place and start a new life for a little while.

I absolutely loved all of my adventures and feel so lucky to have seen the some of the world. I never dreamed that I would get to see so many places throughout Europe. I have been lucky enough to visit Dublin, Paris, Barcelona, London, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, and countless places all over Scotland. From staying in sketchy hostels with twenty strangers to living off of bread and Nutella to save money, I have loved every second of this journey. I think it is safe to say that I may never get to live this carefree lifestyle with few responsibilities again, so I am so excited that I made the most of it. Thank you to everyone that has supported me and followed my journey along the way. It makes being away from home so much easier when you know there are people in America cheering you on, so thank you so much for that!

I am leaving Scotland with a new perspective of the world and the wonderful people who make each city unique. This semester abroad has definitely given me the travel bug and I can’t wait until I can travel again. Scotland will always have a special place in my heart and I know I will be dreaming of my amazing times here once I am home. To end my final blog post, I’ll leave you with a quote from a an old Scottish song about missing Scotland, which I know I will absolutely relate to once I am settled back in the states:

“So let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time. Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home. If I should become a stranger it would make me more than sad. Caledonia’s been everything  I’ve ever had”

Thank you for following my blog! Ascott out. Cheers!

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Coming to a Close

The past few weeks in Scotland have been very relaxed in comparison to my two weeks of spring break travels. It seems so weird to finally have everything calm down! My friends and I have been enjoying going to different events around Scotland to keep busy and to distract ourselves from studying!

Recently my roommate and I have been quite the sports fans! We went to a Glasgow Warriors rugby game as well as a Celtic football (soccer) game. Both of our teams won and we had a great time! It was so great to be at a sporting event again since I had to miss the end of the IU basketball season!

Glasgow Warriors Game

Glasgow Warriors Game

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Celtic Game

Celtic Game

 

My roommate Mari, her friend Hannah, and I also made a spontaneous trip to Edinburgh! We spent the majority of our day hiking around Arthur’s Seat, which is basically an area with beautiful hills/mountains that give you an amazing view of the city. While I have been to Edinburgh before, the weather was so crappy the first time so I was so excited to go back on such a beautiful day!

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Loving the beautiful weather!

Loving the beautiful weather!

Since we are all away from home, my friends and I decided to do a potluck dinner for Easter! I made cupcakes, which were a huge hit! It was so nice to celebrate the holiday with all of my friends!

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That pretty much sums up my life right now! I have two weeks left in Scotland and I know it is about to fly by. This week is going to be pretty boring since I will just be studying for my finals.  My last week here I plan to host a big get together so I can be with all of my friends one last time. I can’t believe the time has already come when I have to think about leaving and bringing an end to this amazing experience. That being said, this will probably be my last post until a day or two before I leave. As always, thanks for reading! Cheers!

Spring Break Stop #4: Prague

After about a week and a half of traveling, it was time for my last stop of spring break, Prague! Kelly and I chose to take a 5 hour bus to Prague from Vienna and I am so glad that we did. The drive throughout the Austrian and Czech countryside was beautiful! Prague is such an adorable city. Kelly and I stayed right in the middle if old town so there were so many different things to explore!

The first day was spent simply walking around and getting familiar with out surroundings. The roads of Prague are beyond confusing! Rather than having roads designed like a grid, the streets of Prague are very random and start and stop in weird places. We got lost many time as.. But a least we got lost in such a beautiful place! Later that day we had our first Czech dinner of sausage, bread, and potatoes with cabbage. The dinner was great and exactly what we needed to end our day of traveling.

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YUM

YUM

The next day we woke up bright and early to go on a free tour around then city. Our tour guide was hilarious and had a wonderful time learning what the city is all about! After the tour Kelly and I did a good amount of shopping. In the middle of the town, Prague has an adorable Easter festival with a lot of fun trinkets and food. We had a great time shopping and simply people watching in this area! One of my favorite stops of the day was visiting the John Lennon Wall. This is simply a random wall in Prague where people have written notes all about peace and love, and how they feel inspired by John Lennon. It was very cool to read all of the different things that people from all over the world have written.

John Lennon Wall

John Lennon Wall

Later that night we decided to treat ourselves to a typical Czech dinner. We went to a local Czech restaurant where we had beef goulash and dumplings and a tasty Czech beer. The whole dinner was amazing and I would definitely eat it again!

Tradtional Czech Goulash

Tradtional Czech Goulash

The rest of our trip was spent wondering the streets and people watching. One of my favorite parts was going up into the astronomical tower to get a beautiful view of the city. I could definitely get used took looking at the beautiful view every day! I also had the pleasure of meeting up with my friend, Rachel, who is studying in Prague this semester. Rachel and I met in a hostel in Dublin so I was so excited that I could see her again!

View from the top of the tower

View from the top of the tower

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Looking back on these last two weeks, I can’t believe I traveled to so many places. While most students my age go to Florida for a week, I was able to travel to London, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague for two weeks. Traveling by bus, trains, and planes while staying in different hostels has definitely been an adventure. I have met so many people from all over the world and have seen so many places that I will never forget. I pretty much feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Thanks mom and dad! As for the rest of my time abroad, I only have one month left! I can’t even believe it. I plan to hang out with my friends the most that I can and make the best of the time I have left. And I suppose at some point I could maybe think about studying for my exams! Here’s to one more month of great times and wonderful friends in Scotland! Cheers!

Spring Break Stop #3: Vienna

Vienna is quite possibly my new favorite city. The city has a feel of elegance and sophistication that I absolutely love. If given the chance, I would go back in a heartbeat!

Our journey to Vienna started by taking a twelve hour overnight train from Berlin. This was quite an interesting experience. The twelve hours consisted of making small talk with strangers, snacking, and half-sleeping in awkward positions. It was a long ride but we didn’t have to pay for a hostel and made it to Vienna eventually! Once we were all settled in we decided to go to a market right in the middle of the city. One side of the market had good while the other was more of a flea market with interesting trinkets. Throughout all of my travels, I have noticed that Europeans love their markets. I can hardly walk through the center of a town without seeing a market of some sort!

The rest of the day was spent roaming the streets and taking in the culture. The buildings are gorgeous! After our fair share of walking, Kelly and I headed back to the hostel to get ready for the opera! With Vienna being home to many famous composers, we absolutely had to make a visit to the opera house! While the opera normally costs hundreds of euros, they offer a cheaper option where people can pay three euro to have a standing spot to watch the show. Obviously as college students on a budget, we were all about this deal! We arrived two hours before the show in order to buy our ticket and claim our territory in the opera house. The opera we saw (Madame Butterfly) was wonderful and the building itself was stunning. I still can’t believe I saw an opera in the famous Vienna State Opera House!

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Inside the opera house

Inside the opera house

The next day consisted of more roaming the streets and people watching. During our stroll we came across a beautiful park with an adorable cafe where we had the typical Austrian dish, weiner schnitzel.

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After lunch, we stumbled upon a few bike festival! The festival had great good, entertainment, and lots of locals. It was really cool to hang out and feel like we actually belonged in Vienna, rather than feeling like a lost tourist!

Bike Festival

Bike Festival

I somehow manage to find food everywhere I go..

I somehow manage to find food everywhere I go..

After all of that walking around we made it back to the hostel to rest and eat some dinner. I use the term dinner very lightly.. As college students we are on a budget, which means we can’t eat out very often. Our dinner this night and most every other night during our travel consisted or a Nutella sandwich, an apple, and maybe some pretzels. I’m pretty sure this is the only time in my life where I will be happy eating like this. But hey, that’s all in the fun of being a young traveler! After our gourmet dinner I decided to return to the opera house to watch their production of the ballet Swan Lake. Instead of paying to see the show inside, I chose to watch it on the huge screen outside of the theater. Every night the theater displays the show on the big screen so the public can watch too. I thought this was such a brilliant idea! Many people came early to grab a seat while others simply watched as they walked by. Watching the ballet on a beautiful evening was the perfect way to end the night.

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On our last day we visited the Schonbrunn Palace, home of the Habsburgs. It’s not quite Versailles but it was still beautiful! Following the common trend of this trip, the rest of the day was spent walking around and exploring the city. It never gets old! The night ended with Kelly and I sharing a bottle of wine and talking about what a wonderful spring break it had been. We truly are the luckiest people in the world for having his opportunity! Vienna was so amazing and I really hope that I will have the chance to return later in life!

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Ready next blog post to read about my fourth and final stop of spring break, Prague!