Working in Europe has been so great because of the added bonus of how easy it is to travel on the weekends. My first month I traveled all around Italy, visiting Cinque Terre, Venice, Milan, Verona, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast.
My most memorable trips were to Venice and the Amalfi Coast, both very unique cities. I really enjoyed walking around and getting lost in Venice, crossing all the bridges and taking the water taxis down the Grand Canal. My trip to the Amalfi Coast included Sorrento, Positano, Capri, and Pompeii. In Capri, I visited the Blue Grotto, a sea cave on the coast that is one of the seven natural wonders of Europe. The sunlight passes through an underwater cavity, creating a blue reflection in the cave that is indescribable. In order to get into the Grotto you have to get into small rowboats and enter through a hole in the cave wall that is a meter and a half in diameter. You have to lay on the ground in the boat so the rower can pull himself into the cave in one motion as he falls back onto everyone in his boat. Once inside, we were able to tip our rower to jump into the Grotto. The main part of Positano is an enclave in the hills filled with colorful buildings, homes, and flowers that leads down to the coast. It’s gorgeous!! We rented a boat while in Positano and went cliff jumping and swimming in some of the nearby caves.
Each Italian city is so different from the last, which has made traveling around Italy a lot of fun. I have to say though, no city compares to Florence. At this point I feel at home here. I know my way around, where to find the best gelato, and how to tell a good pizza from a bad one. (If they don’t cut it -- that’s when you know it’s a good Italian pizza.) Not that you can really have bad pizza in Italy.
These past two months I’ve been traveling almost every weekend, meeting up with friends who are studying all over Europe. I traveled to both Ibiza and Barcelona, Spain. In Barcelona I met up with six of my really close friends from Dartmouth and stayed with them for four nights. We made a point to see of lot of Gaudi’s works, which are all over the city. His work is said to be the most important exponent of modernist architecture. His church, La Sagrada Familia is one of his most famous works in Barcelona. It has been under constructing since 1882 and they don’t expect it to be done for at least another 30 years. The outside and inside are both so different, so I highly recommend getting all views. It was breathtaking! Barcelona was a really cool city to be in because although it was a lot bigger than Florence, certain parts of the city and streets you walk down give you the same small feeling that is so great about Florence.
I spent a weekend in Dublin, Ireland where I stayed with some friends from home, who showed me around the city. We visited the Guinness Factory and learned how Guinness is made and saw amazing views of Dublin from the skybar at the top of the factory. We also spent a day in Howth, a suburb on the coast of Dublin, where we were able to hike the peaks along the ocean. We had breathtaking views mixed in with classic Irish weather, wind and rain! The best part of Dublin was the live music in all the pubs. Even the worst pub in Ireland is better than any Irish pub around the world. There’s really nothing like it.
This past weekend I met up with friends in Paris, France. Only having a weekend in Paris is such a tease because there’s so much to do and see, but it was still a great weekend. I recommend getting a museum pass because it allows you to cut all the lines and works at almost every museum and monument in the city. The view from the top of the arc de triomphe was gorgeous and it was cool to see the Eiffel Tower from so high up. We all really enjoyed Musée d’Orsay. The art was incredible and made my heart pound seeing some of Monet’s work. I think I had at least two crepes a day while in Paris, which is one of the main parts I miss. I found a place in Florence that makes crepes and I think I’ve now broken my obsession with gelato because of it.
The ease of traveling in Europe is a great reason to work abroad here. I have two more trips planned to Interlaken, Switzerland and Amsterdam, Netherlands. It’s been amazing getting to be in Florence during the weeks and traveling all over Europe during the weekends!! I still love coming back to Florence each week though!! It's home!