Monday, October 18, 2010

Rome, El Escorial, La Granja, Segovia, y Barcelona

This is all very delayed, somehow I just haven't gotten around to updating this..time is going by so fast!!

Rome: Jocelyn, Maggie, Ali, K-A, Gina and I all traveled to Rome in the beginning of October and it was unbelievable. After the traumatic plane ride we arrived at our guay hostel, changed, and headed out to meet up with some of the Loyola people studying there. The place we went to was called Coyote..Ali and I helped a few italians get in with us (they needed girls) so we kinda sorta made friends, but other than that the bar was kindof a dud in my opinion. We left early to rest up for the next day of sight seeing. First stop the next morning was the Collosseum, which we had driven by the night before in a cab. It was impresionante, just unbelievable being there in person. We took a bunch of pictures and then walked through the Forum. I'm a huge loser but it was incredible being around such ancient structures, so hard to believe. We also visited the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, and St. Ignatious of Loyola's cathedral. Lotssss of walking, and the only downfall was the RIDICULOUS lunch where the waiter ripped us off (10 euro soda, speaks for itself). I absolutely loved the Trevi fountain, it was stunning and the whole 3 wishes tradition is adorable. Later that night we had a fabulous pasta dinner and hung out on the Spanish steps with some wine. While there we met some other Americans, and we all made our way back to the Trevi at night, which was all lit up and even more stunning. The next day was rainy, so we did a tour of the Vatican. The line was a pain and the tour guide wasn't the greatest, but it was definitely a good choice and the most educational part of the trip. Being in the Sistine chapel was another one of those awestruck moments. That night we went to a small bar by Erica and Ariana's homestay to hang out and have some drinks. The next day was relaxed, just went shopping, grabbed pizza, and departed for the airport. Unfortunately our flight was delayed 5 hours, so we didn't get home until 7 am :/ But all in all I had a fabulous time, definitely one of my favorite trips.

El Escorial/La Granja: School trip, nothing too exciting. Cool monastery and palace. Most interesting thing was that the American boys we met on the Spanish steps in Rome were there on a tour too..weird..

Segovia: Another school trip. This was a cooler city, with the Roman acueductos, cathedral, and palace. We climbed to the top for a great view, and wandered about the city shopping and admiring the winding roads.

Barcelona: Ohhh barca. Where to begin. Started out great...the Ave was great, really nice hotel, delicious first dinner (pizza of course), until we headed to the ice bar, and I lost my wallet on the metro (damn pickpockets). I was devastated, I hate losing things as it is but it was over 100 euro plus all my credit cards, student ID..everything. It sucked and I was upset the whole night and basically the whole weekend. The ice bar was sooo cool (they were playing Ice Age haha), I wish i could've enjoyed it more. The next day was an early wake up for a morning of Gaudí. His architecture is wild, and very interesting to see. The views of the city were guay, and Maria Jose carted us around to a bunch of important sites, including the Sagrada Familia which was incredible, so impressive and detailed. Free time in the afternoon called for a lunch at the Hard Rock cafe (paid for by Loyola, prob my favorite part of the trip). First real cheeseburger, I was in heaven. That night was Halloween...we all dressed up as Real Madrid players (yea, in Barcelona), drank together in the dorms (got yelled at by the concierge) and headed out to a bar called Opium. It was pretty fun, I didn't drink or stay out late, but it was definitely better than my first night. Our last day was some more sights, the Picasso Museum, quick lunch (pizza again haha) and then back to the station to catch the Ave. I definitely need to get back to Barcelona at some point, losing my wallet put a damper on my weekend and I didn't have as much fun as I could have.

Looking forward to hanging out in Alcalá this weekend. To continue my bad luck streak, the Real Madrid ticket order almost got cancelled..nothing can be simple. But hopefully they will arrive tomorrow morning, and the game is sunday! Can't wait for that. Pictures to come!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

OKTOBERFEST and the beginning of October

My short but sweet trip to Munich, Germany this past weekend was one of the craziest and most exciting adventures of my life. It didn't go smoothly to say the least, but the fun and laughter smoothed over the bumps in the road we encountered. We left Friday morning, and after a brief panic when Kelly-Ann's flight hadn't been booked by the travel agent (luckily she ended up on our flight after all) we arrived in Munich at around 3pm. After getting lost a few times, we wound up on the metro en route to our hostel, when we got off a stop early and ended up at the entrance to Oktoberfest. We we thrilled with our mistake, and all began snapping pictures of the festival and the area around it. I wasn't expecting to love Germany so much, but the orange and yellow leaves decorating the ground around the quaint and statuesque buildings made me feel like I was in a storybook.
We dragged ourselves away from Oktoberfest, anxious for the next day, and continued looking for our hostel, which seemed to be tucked away in the most random corner of Munich. We entered what appeared to be a broken down carnival now filled with seedy looking bars, following signs for the Hostival Hangover, until we reached the dirt patch we would call home for the next two days. Instead of the building we expected, in front of us was a giant tent and a row of outdoor port-a-potty-esque bathrooms. Needless to say, we were taken aback and less than pleased with this living situation. After some complaining and failed attempts to relocate, we dropped our luggage in our sheeted-off quarters and headed out to dinner. One of the most amazing sights I saw that weekend in Germany was stepping off the metro in the city center on our way to dinner. Emerging before us was an incredible church of such antiquated and intricate architecture, I was blown away. The night turned around as we sat down at a steak house and were served the most delicious beer I have tasted in my life, followed by one of the best meals of the trip. Our moods elevated by food and drink, we headed to the Hofbrauhos, one of the most famous beer halls in Germany. I was exhausted, but I enjoyed my first liter of the trip and enjoyed watching the rowdiness of the crowded hall, excited to participate more the following day. We returned to our humble abode and attempted to sleep before the big day ahead of us.
After about an hour of sleep, it was time to get out and head to Oktoberfest. We arrived at 8:30AM and joined the throngs of people entering the festival. I was exhausted and a little cranky at that point, but as soon as we found a table and ordered our liters my mood quickly turned around. It's really hard to describe what exactly makes Oktoberfest so much fun. Merely saying it's a big room full of people drinking, chanting, and cheersing at the same time doesn't give it nearly enough credit. After getting kicked out of the reserved table we stole, we sat in the outside area surrounding the tent, and then met up with some other Loyola students who are abroad in other countries. It was so much fun to see familiar faces, and surreal being altogether at this 200 year old festival in Europe. I had a blast, as well as the best hot dog of my life (probably over a foot long, and I devoured it all). Four of us hit up a ride before leaving (a little dizzying, but gave a great view of the festival), and then we headed home for a quick nap before dinner. I was not one of the few troopers who made it out that night, instead snuggled into the bottom bunk I shared with Ali and passed out before our 11:30AM plane the next morning. It was a very quick trip, but I had more fun than I can describe, and I'm so glad I decided to spend the money on the experience.

So October is off to a great start...this week has been FULL of class, class, and more class. Tues-Thurs are now 9-5 days, and Mon and Fri until 2:45. It's definitely a lot of hours, but the minimal homework makes up for it..sort of. So I'm off to CanCan tonight and then ROME for the weekend!