Ciao tutti (Hello everyone),
I’m fresh off my spring break and what a whirlwind it was. I don’t think I traveled more in a short period of time. I did five cities in 10 days: Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Barcelona. It was refreshing leaving Italy and Firenze for a brief moment to explore other cultures, but I’m glad I’m back.
If you crave cheap Birkenstocks and history, go to Berlin. Seeing and touching the Berlin Wall was incredible because I’ve read about it and was taught about the wall when I was in high school. A fun fact is that the Berlin Wall is and probably will be the only wall that is built to keep its people in. Every other wall that was built was to keep people out.
I also went to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. It was one of the most surreal, emotional and intense places I’ve visited. It was huge, astonishing and left me heartbroken reading the history behind that camp. It’s a powerful place and really makes you think about humanity and the world we live in then and now.
Next stop: Amsterdam. My favorite part of Amsterdam was having the opportunity to go to the Anne Frank House. It was an emotional experience after visiting the concentration camp. To see where Anne, her family and another family lived for two years was astonishing. It was a small cramped room for 10 people. The original bookcase that was used to cover the door to the room was still in tact. Anne Frank and company were caught two years before the war ended. Everyone died in concentration camps except Otto Frank, Anne’s father.
We made a four-hour pit stop in Brussels, which was enough time to eat and see Brussels specialties. We ate ungodly amounts of Belgium chocolate and Belgium waffles. We even tried a Belgium tradition of fries with mayonnaise, not ketchup. After stuffing ourselves with four hours worth of food, we made our fourth stop in Paris.
Paris is in my top five favorite cities in Europe because I saw and did so much in a short period of time. I saw the Eiffel Tower, went to museums, saw the Palace of Versailles and walked through the Catacombs. My favorite part of Paris is of course the Eiffel Tower. I’m not ashamed to say that I was cliché and sat and ate macrons and a baguette as I gazed upon that magnificent monument. Seeing the Eiffel Tower during the day is as magnificent as seeing it at night when it’s lit and sparkles the first five minutes of every hour.
Another reason why I loved Paris was because they treat students very well. If you are studying abroad you have to get a student visa and if you show that document, you can get into the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and other museums for free. Paris also gives out discounts if you show your student visa because I got into the Catacombs at a reduced price.
It was time to say goodbye to Paris and head over to Barcelona where it was city life then a 15-minute metro ride in one direction to the beach and another 15-minute ride to breathtaking views. Barcelona is a very cultural city where we spent our time eating churros, tapas and paella dishes as well as gawk at Gaudi’s buildings. From Park Güell to Casa Batlló to la Sagrada Família, we saw unique architecture.
The Sagrada Família was my favorite because it was completely different from any cathedral I’ve been to in Europe. It’s very modern and the architecture of the inside and outside is not tradition to the typical cathedrals you see across Europe. The Sagrada Família started being built in the late 1800s and won’t be finished till 2026 so I guess that’s motivation to pay another visit to Barcelona to see the finish product.
After this 10-day excursion I need a little R&R before finals and weekend trips kick back in again. I only have one month left of this incredible four-month experience. I’m not thinking about the ending of this journey just yet because I still have more places to visit, sites to see, food to try and people to meet.