Thursday, March 25, 2010

Florentine Weekends, Maltease Afternoons, Barcelona Nights and 5 Hours in Rome

I am finally back "home" in London after an absolutely amazing 10 days of running around Europe :) I got the oppoturnity to see Florence, the island of Malta, a bit of Rome and the beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona. I am lucky enough to have such close friends also studying across the pond that I was able to crash for a few nights in each spot. Looking back I feel like it was all just this crazy dream of seeing my friends in such new and foreign places but I have the pictures to prove it as well as share with all of you at home...I still can't get over that I really was physically in Italy, Malta and Spain and that I made it home in one piece :)


I started off my trip after a long stressful week of finals ( I had 3 presentations, 2 huge papers and one major studio project all before I took off Friday afternoon! )

However, I had made an intensive iternirary the week before I left showing all of my flight information and where I was going (this is when I realize how much I am like my dad when it comes to analyzing every detail).

I packed one duffel (I know that is hard for many of you to believe) plus a folder of all of my important paperwork I had to haul around because on the way home I got the pleasure of dealing with customs to extend my student visa--so fun!

Anyways, I headed out to Paddington Station to catch the train into Heathrow (the main London airport) and there I flew to Pisa, Italy which was only an hour and a half flight. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see much since it was about 9pm at night and I had to catch a bus into Florence where I met my friend Krissy from school who was studying abroad there.

I was so excited to finally be in Italy and walk to the cobblestone sidewalks, so relived to be in my first destination with one of my closest friends and just being so in love with everything I saw--the bridges across the river with all the rustic italian apartments lining the sides and all the authentic restaurants full of locals eating late Friday night dinners.

That night we went to Dante's for a later dinner which was just down the street from Krissy's apartment. Such a perfect combination of bottomless wine and bread for students plus my first authentic Italian pizza which was just divine! There was about 10 of us girls all from WSU at dinner and it was so fun catching up over bottles of wine and great food.

Saturday morning Krissy took Michelle (who was also visiting from Barcelona) and I to see the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, Costume Museum, Piazza Michael Angelo, several gelato stops, statue of David and ended our day climbing to the top of the tower next to the Duomo which was an incredible 360 degree view of all of Florence and into Tuscany (Italian Countryside).

Florence was absolutely picture perfect and we were so lucky to have such beautiful sunny weather :) I couldn't have asked for a better first time in Italy...


After a wonderful three sunny days in Florence, I took an hour and a half train ride into Rome which was a really neat way to see the Italian countryside. From there I took another train to Fumico airport to catch my flight to Malta. Several hours later I arrived in the lovely nation of Malta and was literally able to see the hole island when flying into the airport! I was so excited to see palm trees, bright blue sky and water!!! I have forgetten how much I miss the beaches!

So happy to find Sarah right away at the airport and we giddily got onto a vintage bus (almost looked like a surfing van) and headed into "downtown". Malta has many different cities but almost seems more like different neighborhoods since everything is so close.

We spent all day walking around and catching up. It was the first time we have been able to see eachother during college since she attends Point Loma University in San Diego. We had so much fun going out that evening, learning salsa and sipping complimentary sangria :)

Tuesday morning we decide to venture out to Malta's sister island to go explore Gozo, which was unlike any place I have every seen before. We took a thirty minute ferry ride (just like Edmonds to Kingston) and actually found a nice taxi driver to hire for the afternoon to take us around to the top sights because the buses were so random and not consistant for our quick visit.

John, our taxi driver had lived in Gozo his whole life which has a populatiion of 29,000 and was even smaller than the "mainland" of Malta which is only 121 square miles--so many fun facts.

Sarah and I were able to see a lot of Gozo including the beautiful tower which was a little hike across a bridge and upon a hill that literally was right on the edge of the water. Then we wandered to the azure window and inland sea which was unreal, some of the largest cliffs in the world and we were able to sit on the azure window literally right on the edge and RIGHT ABOVE the Mediterranean sea! I felt so blessed and lucky to be given this opportunity to not only see Europe and some of my greatest friends but be this age and already be able to see so much...

It was getting later into the night and we explored several other smaller cities and then stopped at local cafe for a snack and socialized with some Maltese locals.

Wednesday I went to Sarah's school, University of Malta which was a beautiful campus with a fabulous view and then later that night we went out with other students for St. Patrick's Day. So fun celebrating the Irish Holiday in a different European country. Later that night Sarah and I had a genius discovery of vanilla ice cream in a nutella crepe--flawless yet probably the messiest snacks I have ever eaten haha.

Thursday morning crept up on me at 5:30 am and I went to catch my cab to the airport and said my goodbyes to Sarah (Fortunately she is visiting me shortly in Londontown on the tail end of her spring break). Thursday was quite daunting on my itinerary due to the fact that I had 5 hours in Rome by myself and not exactly sure of what to expect, not to mention the fact that I was going to be in 3 countries in one day--eeeeeee.


Luckily Sarah showed me the best places to go on my little Rome map I bought before I left--super touristy haha. I flew out of Malta, stopped in Sicily (which was awesome to fly over) and landed in Roma at 10:30 am and had till 5pm till my next flight to Barcelona...

I took the train into the main station in Rome and was able to check my luggage for the day which was a relief. I bought a metro pass and took the metro two stops to the Collissum which is honestly the first thing you see when you walk outside. It literally gave me chills to actually see it right in front of me and is something most people in Rome walk by everyday!

It was a beautiful day in Rome and quite hot, I wandered around the Colissum and by the arch. I found a nice spot on a hill and just people watched for awhile, it was so relaxing and calm. I then went off to grab some gelato and get on the metro to the Spanish Steps and see Trevi Fountain.

What I loved about Rome is that every block you walked you see some ornate and ancient structure mixed in with apartments and shops. I wish I knew more about what I was seeing but I was so happy to see the one and only Trevi founation which was actually quite hidden.

I dodged a couple of pick pocketors (one guy was trying to convince me to put my finger through a thread loophole--like that would be a wise idea???) I made it back to the train station just in time to meet up with my friend Katie--thank god our phones were working to get a hold of eachother because Roma Termini is absolutely gigantic.

We caught the bus for an hour out to the other Rome airport to catch our flight to Barcelona to meet up with 4 of our good Kappa Delta friends.


We got into Barcelona Thursday night around 12pm and at this point I had been in Malta in the morning, Italy for the afternoon and Spain at night complete with 2 flights, 2 train rides, 4 metro rides and 2 bus rides! Probably one of the craziest travel days I will ever have but completely worth every minute of it. I was really happy I was able to experience Rome even if it was really quick with the several hours I had in between my flights.

Katie (who is also studying abroad in Florence) and I are so happy to be reunited with the four other girls in our house and we go out for a bit to experience the nightlife of Barcelona which was quite fun :)

The next morning we sleep in and then head to the beach. It was so nice to be able to put our feet in the sand and I was actually quite relived I didn't have to worry any more about traveling except for coming home.

We unfortunately had a bit of a mishap on the beach and some fifteen yearold boy started asking about the volleyball game and us being friendly tried to explain it to him, little did we know his friend was behind us stealing our friend's purse! They don't lie when they tell you not to leave your bag untouched for one minute--they're too good! Such a bummer though...

However, that evening we went downtown and went to a light show, some of the buildings and fountains all are glowing and going off to music. So fun!

The next day was my last day and we headed to Park Guell which is on top of the city--literally can see all of Barcelona which was much larger than I expected. The park is beautiful but a bit of a hike up even with escalators up the street haha! Such a great place to end my wonderful ten day spring break.


I headed out to catch my fight Sunday feeling as if the last ten days were all a dream. I love London but getting out of the UK and seeing Europe was such a different cultural experience, hearing different languages, buildings and people.

My flight ended up being delayed 5 hours and I didn't get into London till almost 1am and still had to go through customs and get a new student visa which luckily went quite smoothly. Border control always scare me a bit haha.

I ended up having to take a bit pricy cab ride home since it was so late on a Sunday and all the other transportation stopped working but I was happy to be home after such an otherwise smooth trip!

I apologize for the long post but I decided to do my trip all at once so you could read about it from start to finish! Hope you enjoy my pictures, miss and love you all very much!

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