I can’t believe that this semester is coming to an end. I have been doing so much since I have been here and I am so thankful for how much I’ve been able to travel! A couple weeks ago I went to my favorite place in the world, Paris, and it most definitely lived up to my expectations. My friend Adam, his parents and I went on the trip. The first night there (Thursday) we went straight to the hostel to go to bed and we slept in the next morning. During the day on Friday we went to the Eiffel Tower and went all the way to the top! The view left me speechless and freezing. At the very top we bought a glass of champagne to celebrate. We bought tickets to take the stairs most of the way up and then took the elevator when we had to. I enjoyed walking to the top because you could take your time and enjoy every level and see the view. It was so cold up there but I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it. After we went to the Eiffel Tower we got a small lunch and then we took the metro to the Arc d’Triumph. The Arc is on the Champs Elysees, which is this beautifully lit up road with shops. After taking the necessary pictures of the Arc we made our way down the street and stopped into a view stores. At the end of the street there was something set up that looked like a Christmas Festival. There were a few kids rides, a giant slide and lots of shops that you could buy scarves, ornaments and random things as well. At the very end of the road there was a Ferris wheel and ice-skating. Adam and I went ice-skating while his parents went on the Ferris wheel and it was so much fun because I never thought that I would ever be ice skating in Paris! After such a nice day we got a brief dinner and went to bed because we were all exhausted. On Saturday we spent the day at the Louvre, and when I say we spent the day I mean it. We spent six hours in the museum. The place is so huge that even though we were there for so long we still didn’t see everything. My favorite part about the museum was finally being able to have Starbucks. Other than that there were a couple pieces that I really did enjoy. One of the first things we saw was the Mona Lisa and that was incredible. Its so funny that something that seems so simple can be so popular. We also got Ben & Jerry’s in the museum and that was another highlight of course. After the Louvre, Adams parents were exhausted so they headed back to the hostel while Adam and I stopped at a random metro stop to get dinner. When we got of the stop we came across the Galeries Lafayette, which is a huge mall in Paris. There were so many stores so we just walked around and watched the tree light up. Afterwards we got on the metro again and found another stop to get dinner at. Dinner was delicious our waiter was great which was a relief because the night before our waiter was nothing special. On Sunday we had our flight at 9pm so we took our luggage with us to do some sight seeing for the day. First we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral and walked around while there was a mass going on inside. The music was my favorite part aside from the façade of the cathedral. The inside wasn’t well lit so it was difficult to just walk through and see everything. After the Cathedral we went to the lock bridge, which was probably my second favorite thing about Paris. For anyone who doesn’t know, the lock bridge is a bridge in Paris that is covered in locks (which seems self-explanatory) but the meaning behind it is that people will go to this bridge, place a lock on the bridge and then throw the key in the Seine to symbolize everlasting love. I promised myself that when I go back to Paris in the future I will definitely put a lock on the bridge. After the bridge we got lunch and then Adam and I went into Saint Chappelle. What was interesting about this church was that the first floor is extremely boring. We were really disappointed at first because we had paid to get into the church and there was nothing there. We made our way upstairs and realized what it really was that we paid for. There were a series of stain glass windows that told the stories from Genesis, Exodus, etc. The room used to be a reliquary but all of the relics are now kept underneath Notre Dame. Once we left there we made our way to the airport to catch our plane. While I was in Paris I was able to try all of the foods I wanted to which was my main goal in going. I had wine, cheese, bread, chocolate croissant, and a croque-monsieur (ham & cheese). I was very sad to go but now I can’t wait to go back!!
The weekend after Paris, Sinead and I went to London for the weekend. My dad says it was only a day trip because we were only there from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. Even though we didn’t get there until the afternoon on Friday we were still able to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Seeing Eye. The Seeing Eye is the third largest Ferris wheel in the world and you get a great view of London from the top. During the ride there are touch screens where you can look up information about all of the sights around you. This was really helpful because Sinead and I didn’t know a lot about London except for a few things. When we got back to our hotel it was already late so we took a quick nap and then headed out for the night. Friday night was probably my favorite part about London because we were able to meet two girls from the small town we were staying in and they took us to another irish pub nearby. It was so much fun being out with them because it was so different from going out in Rome. Everyone there was out to have a good time, there was great music and everyone was so friendly! The next day Sinead and I had a few places we wanted to see before we went to Winter Wonderland at night. First, we went to the London Bridge but then we were a little disappointed and wanted to find out what the nicer looking bridge was on the other side. On our walk there we came across the Towers of London and then continued walking toward the Tower Bridge (the cooler bridge). After seeing those sights we made our way back to Big Ben and went to go into Westminster Abbey, which was right near it. Unfortunately Westminster Abbey was closed to sightseeing so we were not able to go in. From there we found directions to go to Buckingham Palace and by the time we reached there it was darker out so it was lit up but there were no fancy guards outside the building. From there we decided we would start walking in the general direction that we thought Winter Wonderland would be in. Eventually we came across it which was fantastic because the entire weekend we were having such great lunch finding things and trains being perfectly on time. Even though it was free to get in there was such a long line because of how many people were already inside Winter Wonderland. Sinead and I had no idea what to expect when we went in but it wound up being this giant carnival with tons of rides and games and booths selling the same sort of things that they were selling in Paris. It was a little chilly outside but it was so much fun to be there! While we were there we got hot chocolate with baileys, we went on a couple of rides, and just enjoyed being there. It was a good thing we left early because it was so packed that when we did leave people were still trying to get in even thought it closed in an hour. On our way to the metro to get back to our hotel we came across the Hard Rock in London! We didn’t go to the restaurant but we did go inside the store and bought a couple of souvenirs. We were so happy that the entire weekend we kept coming across awesome things rather than seeking out everything. The next morning we were up really early to catch our flight and once again I was sad to leave, but mostly because London reminded me of Boston and it made me miss home more. AND they spoke English… that was probably the best part.
This past Thursday was our last day of classes and now I am off to Cinque Terre for the weekend with Jenna and Shelby. One last trip before I go back home! It is also a nice distraction from finals but thankfully they are not as bad as I thought they would be. We already finished Italian earlier in the week so now once I return to Rome I have three finals, packing, buying a few more souvenirs and then I’m heading home! This Study Abroad experience was without a doubt the best choice I’ve ever made and the best experience I have ever had in my life. When I think about leaving it is bittersweet because I will miss the experience itself, but I am positive that I will return to Italy. Maybe not Rome, but definitely Italy!