A Travellerspoint blog

Last day in Europe

Dublin

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I just realized I never posted what we did during our second day in Dublin. We got up pretty early and headed out to catch the Dublin hop on hop off bus. The first stop we got off at was the Dublin Castle and Christs Church. Dublin castle is in fact, not a castle. It looked like any other regular building. We then walked over to Christs Church, but we didn't go in because you had to pay. We then made our way over to St. Patricks. This church was really cool. Next to the church there is a green, called St. Patricks green, and it has a lovely (as the Irish say) view of the church. We then got back on the bus and made our way to Kilmainham Gaol. This is a really old jail where there were 16 executions during the Irish revolution. The jail itself was pretty cool, but it was freezing inside. After the jail we went to lunch at The Temple Bar for lunch. It was pretty crowded, as we expected. We all got sandwiches because they have the largest sandwich menu in all of Ireland. The sandwiches were really good! We then made out way to the Guinness storehouse. I thought this was really fun. We learned a little about how they make the beer and then at the end you get to pour "a perfect" pint. It was really fun!! We then went back to our hotel, where we ate dinner, again, at the hotel restaurant called Olivers. The food was great there! Overall, Ireland was amazing!!! I loved it there so much, maybe except for the rain and cold, but I would not have experienced the real Ireland if it didn't rain.

Posted by kerryeaton 06:15 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

A little lass in Dublin

semi-overcast
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Dublin is my last stop on my four month European Tour. We arrived in Dublin at about 12:45 and took a cab to our awesome little hotel. It is a little bit of a walk from the city center but the hotel itself is great. We were all able to fit into one cab (all four of us, six suitcases, two carry-ons, a personal item, and a camera bag). Our cab driver was so nice and had the best accent. I completely forgot that the Irish drive on the other side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. It was pretty comical when my dad tried to get into the drivers seat by accident. We drove through the city and finally reached our hotel. It was called the Schoolhouse Hotel. It used to be a schoolhouse but they have turned it into a hotel. We put all our stuff down and went to eat the bar at the restaurant. I obviously ordered a Guinness, because when in Ireland you order a Guinness. I also got a Shepherds pie. It was delicious! Definitely the best Shepherds pie I have ever had (although I guess there isn’t much competition seeing as I have never had authentic Irish food before in my life). We then headed out into the city. It was freezing! Much different from the beautiful weather I left behind in Barcelona.
We walked until we found Grafton Street. Grafton Street is the main pedestrian street in Dublin. It was pretty crowded and there are stores lining both sides of the street. They have some fancy stores there like North Face and Louis Vuitton. We just wandered around the center of the city for a little bit and then made our way to The Temple Bar. This is one of the most famous bars in Dublin. It is really cute outside, and you think it is little from the looks of it, but it just keeps going back and back. The outside is red and there were lights streaming down the sides of the building. It looked really pretty. After little convincing we decided to go in and have a drink. You guessed it, another Guinness. The place was all decorated with lights and there was a live band playing. The accents of the people were also pretty funny. I could listen to Irish accents all day. After the drink we decided to head back to the hotel. I can finally watch TV in English! And speak to people in English. It is a great feeling!

Posted by kerryeaton 11:44 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Madrid

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We were in Madrid for a whopping 12 hours. We arrived at about 3 in the afternoon. After finding out hotel, we then went into the city. We walked around to the Bank of España and then to the Plaza del Sol. There were so many people there. It was the biggest crowd I have ever tried to get through (well maybe second to the Celtics parade crowd). We found a place to eat dinner and then headed back to the hotel. We woke up at 8 in the morning and headed to the airport. I was leaving Spain behind and slowly making my way towards America. Dublin, Ireland was the final stop. Top o’ the mornin to yah!

Posted by kerryeaton 11:43 Archived in Spain Tagged madrid Comments (0)

Bye Bye Barcelona

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My family arrived on the 22nd of December and we stayed in Barcelona until the 27th. We spent Christmas in Barcelona which was very different than in the United States. The O’Leary’s also came down to Barcelona. The things we did were no different than what I had already done, except for the Christmas Swim in the Mediterrean. Both Tom and I decided that we would go swimming on Christmas day. He had to persuade me a little once we were actually down at the beach, but I did eventually run in and swim. It was a little chilly but not as cold as Nauset beach... in the Summer. It was so fun showing my family around Barcelona and spending time with them. I will be sad to be leaving the city I have called home for four months, but I am definitely ready to go back to my real home in the United States.

Posted by kerryeaton 11:39 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Eastern European Adventure!

Budapest, Hungary

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Day 4: Dec. 5
We woke up early on Monday and made our way to the train station to catch our train to Budapest, Hungary. We took the 12 o’clock train and we were in Budapest by about four. The train ride to Budapest was actually really interesting. I am pretty sure we went through some poor sections of Hungary and Austria. It looked like some of the houses still had outhouses. The houses were very small and looked a lot like shacks. It was really cool and interesting. We finally made it to the train station and it was really easy to find our hostel. My first glimpse of Eastern Europe was exactly how I pictured it to be! It literally looks like what Eastern Europe looks like in the movies, but it is so surreal when you are actually walking around the city. It had a very soviet vibe (Hungary has only been free of soviet rule for about 22 years, which was so interesting especially for me being a history major). All of the buildings are really old looking, the paint is chipping, they are all a shade of beige or another very bland color and some of the buildings look really run down. We found our hostel which was in an old building on one of the main streets in Pest (Budapest is technically two cities, Buda on one side of the Danube River and Pest on the other). We were staying on the Pest side.
The hostel was located on the top floor of the building and there was no elevator so I walked up about nine flights of stairs with my travelers backpack on (no easy feat). We finally made it to the top and the hostel was awesome! It was decorated with all retro materials and it was so homey and welcoming. It was really dimly lit and there were things from all over the world. The building itself felt very Eastern Europe/ Soviet. I could immediately tell I was in Eastern Europe! We then met Suzie, who was working there that night. She was so nice and helpful and gave us all these recommendations of things to do and where to eat. It was awesome. Our rooms were awesome. We had two doubles with a common shower and bathroom. Even the key was cool, it was so old and one of the big metal ones. The set up of the hostel could not have been more perfect. I was in love with the hostel, and it was nice that we liked it so much because we would just stay there at night hanging out! The ambiance was awesome!
That night we went to one of the restaurants that Suzie recommended. It was an anchored boat right on the Danube. Because it was on the Pest side, we were able to have an amazing view of Buda. There is a castle and a great church and all these bridges connecting the two cities and everything was lit up, it was awesome. For dinner I had the traditional Hungarian Goulash. It is a beef dish with little dumplings. I did not really like it, but I needed to try it since I was in Hungary. We then walked back to our hostel where we just hung out in our rooms for the night. We decided to sit in the common area of the hostel and the owner of the hostel was there and he offered us some Hungarian wine. It was really interesting tasting. It was called Tokaj. It is a grape that has fungus growing on it, so it gives it a strange taste. It was pretty good, and it was really nice of the owner to give the four of us each a glass because I am pretty sure it it kind of expensive.
Side note: Hungary is not on the Euro. They are on the Hungarian Forint. So I had to exchange all my euros for some HUF (what we called it because that is how it is abbreviated). The funny thing about HUFs are they are in the thousands. So the hostel cost 30 euro total (for three nights, yes 10 euro per night = about 12 dollars, sooooo cheap) and it was 8,100 HUF. It was comical and my friends and I would continually make fun of things saying “oh wow this only costs 2,100” , perfect. It sounds like a lot but it is actually nothing! The whole city was really cheap, one night I had a full dinner for 3.50 euro. It was crazy!

Day 5: Dec. 6
We started the day pretty early because we were attempting to see all of Buda on this day. The first stop of the day was to a pastry shop to get some Kremes. I CANNOT EXPLAIN HOW GOOD THEY ARE!!!! It is a tort type pastry. There is cream/custard in the middle and there is flakey, melt in your mouth outer covering. The cream is whipped cream but with 10x the flavor and really light and delicious. I was in heaven. The second stop was the great market. It was exactly what you are thinking a great market is. There was tons of food, vegetables, meats and rows and rows of paprika. Who knew that paprika was big in Hungary? Not I, that is until I walked into Paprika heaven. There were two levels of the market and the top was all tourist shops. It was really cool.
We then walked over the bridge to the Buda side of the city. We decided to hike up Gellart’s hill. It was a pretty long hike, but the view from the top was totally worth it. You could see pretty much everything on both sides of the city. The view was gorgeous and the sky was blue and the temperature was really nice. Everything about it was perfect. We then walked over to the castle district. There wasn’t actually a castle, but instead there was a HUGE museum in the middle. After walking a little further we found the Fisherman’s Church. This may have been one of the coolest churches I have ever been to. The facade of the church was a beige color, but the roof was tiled with red, orange and green. The roof was absolutely amazing. So different from any other church I have been to. After the church we decided to go across the river to the Pest side, where there is a parliament building. Wow, what a cool building that was. It was huge and it was full of pillar like structures. So cool! After seeing parliament we walked over to the Cathedral in Pest. There was another Christmas market there, where we got lunch because we were starving. I got some sort of potatoe medley. Who knows because I don’t speak Hungarian. We went into St. Stephens and it was really cool! So many gold structures and domes and red marble. We then made our way to the main Christmas Market in Budapest, but I was freezing so I ended up standing in a store called “The NewYorker” the whole time. I did a quick viewing of the market but nothing was standing out to me so I decided I wanted to be warm.
For dinner on Tuesday night, the hostel was making us dinner for free. Every guest who was staying in the hostel was invited to have dinner in the common room. We made a “campfire” Hungarian food. It was potatoes, onions, sour cream, sausage, water, and paprika. It was kind of like a stew. It was delicious! The girl who was working at the hostel was helping us make the dinner. She was so cute and so happy. She was so interested in what we were doing in Europe and our lives back home. It is so funny because whenever I say I am studying in Barcelona peoples expressions are “ohhh wow that is so awesome” or “I LOVE BARCELONA.” And then I feel way cooler than I probably should because I think I am cool for living there. Anyways, dinner was such an awesome experience. There was an Australian couple, a couple from England, one solo traveler from Australia, and four people from Portugal. Everyone spoke English (even the people from Portugal, and the girl working at the Hostel). Everyone was in such a great mood and interesting in everyone else’s lives. We ended up sitting there for about four hours. AND the dinner was awesome! The main topic of conversation was accents, seeing as 8 out of 13 were native English speakers. I could not tell the difference between the Australian accent and the British accent. It was sooo interesting to me, and I never got bored talking to any of these people that I had literally just met. They were making us do British accents and they were saying it was more Aussie, except when we quoted Harry Potter. When we asked them to do American accents they refused. It was funny how easily we would just do a British accent and they would refuse to try the American “because they thought they sounded strange.” It was such a great experience and I love the traveling/ hostel mentality because everyone is just enjoying themselves and everyone is between the ages of 18-25. I love hostel culture, it is SO fun!

Day 6: Dec. 7
This was our last full day in Budapest. We walked over to Auguszt Cukrászda, which is supposed to have the best krémes in the entire city. (shout out to my mom for sending the New York Times article listing the best krémes in Budapest). IT WAS SO GOOD. It was a huge piece and it was a little slice of heaven. The cream tasted amazing and the flakey outer part was melt in your mouth. HEAVENLY.
After breakfast we did a walking tour around the Jewish Quarter and saw the second biggest synagogue in the world! We also walked over to the opera house which was also very cool. Intricately designed. We went back to the great market for lunch where I got Langos. Langos is fried dough with pretty much anything you want on it. I got sour cream with sausage and onions. It was sooo goood! Amazing.
We them headed over to the famous Budapest thermal baths. The bath we went to was called Széechenyi. It was this massive yellow building with the baths in the middle of it. Some of the baths are outside (the best ones are outside) and there are also some inside. We stayed in the warm baths outside for the majority of the time. It was a giant pool with water the temperature of a hot tub outside. It was soooo great. There was steam rising from it and then it got dark and all the lights came on. One of the best experiences of my life!
On the walk home, we stopped to get mulled wine. Mulled wine is hot wine mixed with fruits and spices. I was hesitant at first because of my bad experience in Vienna, but once I tasted it, all my worries went aside and I was loving the mulled wine. I want to try to make some at home! After dinner we went back to the hostel to hang out and have some treats because we had a 4:15am taxi in the morning.
We made it to the airport before 5am and we were back in Barcelona by 8:10. I was able to see the Alps and the Pyrenees all in one plane ride!

My last trip was nothing less than amazing. Seeing Vienna and Austria for a second time was just as great as the first and was different enough because I saw a different season. Budapest was the furthest East I have traveled thus far in my life and has only opened a new desire to continue traveling and experiencing new cultures. I am sad that my time in Europe is winding down, but I am so grateful that I have been given the opportunity of a lifetime to travel around for four months and I am certainly not going to take these last two weeks for granted.

Posted by kerryeaton 15:18 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

The Hills are Alive in Salzburg

Salzburg, Austria

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Day 3: Dec. 4
I was finally making my way back to my favorite European city from the first Euro trip I had taken four years ago. The first time I went to Salzburg was in the summer, so I was so excited to have the opportunity to go during the winter. My friend Kaitlyn and I decided to take a day trip there. I know, it was a little much, but I figured when was the chance I would make it back to Salzburg again, so why not take the chance while it was there (and relatively cheap considering the train tickets were 80 euro round trip). We woke up around 6:30 to get to our 8:14 train. We were able to get breakfast and then we headed out to catch the bus. From the bus we had to catch the metro. We got on the metro at 8 and our train was leaving at 8:14. We had five stops. We got to the stop we needed to get off at 8:10, we were running through the station at this point (and we still did not have our ticket). We bought our tickets the fastest I think anyone ever had, ran to the track and hopped on the train at 8:14. We got half way down one of the cars and the train started moving. We literally JUST made it. It was awesome. We then had a 2 hour and 40 minute train ride. Once we started getting closer to Salzburg we were able to see the Alps, which were AWESOME! They had snow on them and everything so it was amazing.
We got to Salzburg around 11am and set out to find the tourist office to get our Sound of Music tour tickets. After getting the tickets we made our way to the famous Salzburg Christmas market (yes, I know, another Christmas market). This one was BY FAR my favorite one that I went to in all my travels. It is called Salzburger Christkindl-Markt. There were so many booths, I don’t even have a number to estimate. All the booths were wooden stalls painted green with lights and Christmas trees. It was awesome. Kaitlyn and I walked around for a little bit because we had about two hours before the tour began. We also got lunch at the market. I got a bosna, which is a sandwich with sausage type meat and onions and mustard. It was delicious (I also got one for dinner). The market was awesome and we didn’t even get to everything in the two hours. We did however have time to get some apple strudel (although I don’t think there was apple in it, it was just the dough) and I got apple sauce and warm vanilla sauce on it. It was sooooooo gooooood.
We made our way back over to where the tour was leaving and our tour began!! We didn’t get to take the tour bus, but we took a little van with the five other people on the tour. Our tour guides name was Peter. He was a middle aged Austrian and he was very informative and so excited about the Sound of Music. It was really cool because there were two women from England, a couple from Canada, and a man from Malaysia. We drove all around Salzburg, which in my opinion is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We saw the Abbey where the nuns lived, we saw the house that they used for the Von Trapp family, the gazebo and then we took a trip out to the town where the church was that was used in the movie. We took a tour of the outlying parts of Salzburg and they were so incredibly beautiful. There are so many lakes and mountains everywhere. Also, the sun was setting. It was literally breath-taking. The town where the church is located is called Montsee. It also had a christmas market. The town itself is so cute! It has all different colored buildings and there are Christmas lights everywhere. I also got some really good apple strudel in this town also because the tour recommends it. Obviously not missing out on that, come on. On the way back to Salzburg, we were singing to the Sound of Music songs and it was great. Pure bliss. After the tour, Kaitlyn and I made our way back to the Christmas market to get dinner and make some final purchases. We then walked to the train station where we were able to make an earlier train back to Vienna.
It was a great day and I was so glad that I was able to go back to Salzburg and go on the Sound of Music tour. Fabulous day!

Posted by kerryeaton 12:14 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Vienna, Austria!!

all seasons in one day
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Day 1: Dec. 2
My last and final trip began on December 2nd. I had a 4:30 flight out of Barcelona to Vienna, Austria. I had already been to Vienna once about four years ago, but I was really excited to go back because Austria was my favorite country the last time. Once in Vienna, we had to do quite the navigating in order to find out hostel. We got off at the airport and then had to take the train to the metro station. We then got on the metro to the end of the line where we had to find the bus stop and wait for the bus that would bring us to our hostel. While we were on the metro, a really nice guy stopped to help us because we were all so confused and unsure of where we were going, so he helped us and without him it would have been very difficult to find our bus stop. We finally made it to the bus stop and hopped on the 46B. We asked the driver (who spoke no English) where the stop was (in our failed attempt at reading German). All he could do was laugh at us. We made it to the top of the hill, got off the bus and right in front of us was this huge palace hotel. It had to have been a four or five star hotel. Unfortunately, we were not staying there and our hostel was a little further down the road. It was sooo cute and there was a little layer of snow on all the trees and lining the path to the hostel. I was able to touch Austrian snow for the first time!! The hostel looked like a typical Austrian building and was really cute. I was traveling with three other girls so we were able to split a four bed room, which worked out great. We were in the middle of nowhere Vienna, but I loved it!!
After settling in our room, we were all really hungry and needed a place to eat. It was already 10:00 at this point and the center of the city was a good 20-30 minutes away by public transportation so we were a little nervous we wouldn’t find anything in the boonies of Vienna. We asked the front desk where we should go and he told us that 200m down the road was a little beer garden. Perfect. We walked down a completely deserted road (don’t worry mom, it was safe and there were four of us, and I am still living). After about a two minute walk, we ended up at this big yellow house. This was where we were eating. It was all lit up and so cute! We walked in and as if it was not already amazing from the outside, the inside was even better. It had really low lighting and there were candles on every table with Christmas trees and berries. It was awesome. For dinner, we split some Austrian wine and I got Wiener Snitzel!!! I got a wiener snitzel that was a bunch of little ones cut up. I must have gotten at least 24 of them, needless to say I was handing them out to my friends like a crazy person because there were so many. It was so delicious and I forgot how much I liked wiener snitzel from the last time I was in Austria. Then for dessert, my friend and I split a cream strudel drizzled in warm vanilla sauce. Indescribable. It was delicious. We ended up sitting at the restaurant for a little while because we were all obsessed with it, but then we were finally kicked out and went back to our hostel to prepare for the next day in the city!

Day 2: Dec. 3
On Saturday we woke up pretty early so that we could have a full day in the city, and because breakfast was only free until 9am. After breakfast, two of my friends and I made our way over to Schonbrunn Palace. This palace is absolutely huge!!! It is a large, stark yellow palace (preference of the queen at the time it was being built). In front of the palace during December is a Christmas market (I literally must have gone to about 12 Christmas markets during my week vacation, Christmas market galore, I am lucky I didn’t spend more money than I did at them because everything was sooo cool!). We ended up having to wait an hour and a half to get in so we spent some time at the Christmas market. I got lunch there, I am not sure what it was but it was some sort of pasta that was almost like gnocchi and had onions and potatoes, sort of a mac and cheese type deal... (I could be so wrong) but either way, it was really tasty. Once we were able to get inside it was awesome. All the rooms were decorated so nicely and we were able to get an audio guide so we knew what we were looking at. One of the rooms was where Mozart gave his first concert at the age of six! Then there was another room where JFK had met with other famous leaders. The rooms were so ornately designed and it was really cool!
After leaving the palace we met up with our other friend who wanted to go to some of the museums that morning. We went to a section called Belvedere. There was another Christmas market here! I got some roasted nuts, that were covered with brown sugar, I am guessing. I got pecans and almonds, they were really good! I also tried some of the “punch.” All the stalls were selling this drink so I figured that I might as well try some because I am all about trying the local cuisine. I HATED IT. It was disgusting. I got a caramel punch. I did not find out until later that it was a hard cider with whiskey! Dis-gust-ing!. I tried really hard to drink some of it in hopes that I would eventually end up liking it because I paid about $7 for it, but it just wasn’t worth my agony so I handed the cup back pretty much completely full (I had to return the mug it was in because they serve you in real ceramic mugs, you pay a deposit and when you return the cup you get the deposit back). When we were at the market it started to rain and it was already pretty chilly so we decided to head to a museum. We went to the Wein (Vienna) Museum. I am not much of a museum person, so after about 20 minutes I was playing games, such as make a maze out of the collections and see how many ways you can go through it (yes, I am a child, but it was kind of boring!).
After the museum we took the U-Bahn (metro in Austria) to St. Stevensplatz. This is where the Cathedral of the city is located. It was a really nice church and very very big. It was night time so I wasn’t able to get a great look at it. We also went inside. The inside was really dark and kind of hard to see, but it was still spectacular! We then headed to dinner, we were going to try to go to “the best restaurant for wiener snitzel” but the line was over an hour long, so we decided to head back to where the hostel was and try a different restaurant that we had seen the night before. What a great choice that was! I got goat cheese wrapped in bacon on a salad with balsamic dressing. It was soooo good! I never wanted it to end. I also got the house beer, which I thought was cool because Austria is supposed to have good beer and I was able to order one at an authentic Austrian Beer Garden. For dessert, I obviously got apple strudel. Nothing more needs to be said about the dessert, Austrian apple strudel. Done.
We then headed back to our hostel and my friend Kaitlyn and I got ready for our big day trip to Salzburg to go on the Sound of Music tour!

Posted by kerryeaton 11:18 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Girona!!!

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On Saturday I went to Girona. Girona is a small city about an hour and forty five minutes away from Barcelona. I read on some website that Girona was considered one of the top undiscovered cities in Europe for 2011, so we decided that we should test it out because it was so close and we wanted something to do. I went with my friend Jessica. We met at the train station and boarded our train at 9:45. We were in Girona by 11:45 and immediately tried to find the center of the city. We were not able to find a city map and there was no tourist office (that we could find) so we decided to just walk around and hope that we found things. When we first got there, it was a little chilly so we decided to sit at a little cafe right on the river and have some coffee. We then just walked around and eventually found the more popular areas of the city.
Girona was sooooo cute. I absolutely loved it. It was so quiet and quaint. The houses were really pretty and different from those in Barcelona. It was really nice to get out of the city for a little while and not see taxis zooming past you at ever single moment. We made our way to the Cathedral of Girona, which was amazing especially with the blue sky in the background. We went inside and had an audio guide. We listened to maybe four of the information sessions and then we were over the audio tour. The inside of the church was really cool. The ceilings were so high up and it was really dark and grey inside, but then the windows were all stained glass. It was really pretty. Right outside of the cathedral there is a lookout point where you could see the Pyrenees in the distance!!! It may have been my favorite part about Girona. They were so pretty! They were all covered with snow! It almost reminded me a little of New Hampshire with the rolling green hills and then the white mountains in the background. It was really cool!
After the cathedral we headed to the main street in Girona. This street was so cute. It had tons of little restaurants. Girona is supposed to have really good tapas, but Jessica and I were starving and we saw the picture of a hamburger and we were sold. So when we were in Girona we ate at an Irish pub and had nachos and a cheeseburger. But the burger was delicious, it was an American style hamburger, not the weird European kind that you usually get served over here.
This whole time I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Spain. I could not put my finger on where I thought I was. There were a lot of things that were reminding me of the United States, but then again it was totally different from the US. We sat outside the Irish pub for a while and then decided to head back to the river to see the Eiffle Bridge.
The Eiffle Bridge was built by the same man who built the Eiffle Tower. The bridge was not nearly as cool as the Eiffle Tower (but then again, how could it be, with the Eiffle Tower being one of the most well known structure in the world). The view from the bridge was what was cool. The bridge goes over a river. On the other side of the river, the houses are built right up the edge, so there are all different colored buildings right on the side. It is what I would picture Venice to look like. You could also see the Cathedral in the background. The different colored houses, with the stark white cathedral and the blue background was amazing.
By this time, we had seen a lot of the city so we decided to head home. We took the 5:30 train home and we were back by 7. Girona was so nice! I loved it because it was so much quieter than Barcelona, but was still big enough to keep me occupied for the day. The weather was absolutely perfect, it was a little crisp but the sun was shining and the sky was perfectly blue which made me like it even more. Good Job Girona!

Posted by kerryeaton 10:32 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Allie visits Barcelona!!

one week with my best friend!

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Allie visits Barcelona!!

Day 1:
I woke up pretty early to go and get my best friend from home from the airport! Her flight was landing in Barcelona at 9:30 in the morning and I was SO excited to go and get her! She was coming all the way from the United States and would be staying with me for the week! It was her first time flying by herself and her first time out of the country. Lots and lots of first for her. I was at the airport waiting for her to come out of the sliding “llegados (arrivals)” doors. Finally I saw her and I had a smile from ear to ear. I was jumping out of my skin with excitement! People around us were laughing, but I did not care. I had not seen her for almost 3 months! She was really excited to be here, and was about to start maybe the longest day of her life (seeing as it was already 3:30 in the morning her time, but it was 9:30 in the morning Barca time).
We went back to my residencia to put all her stuff away and then quickly headed out to explore the city. I felt like such a tour guide, but it was really fun! We first headed to Barrio Gotic (which is one of my favorite part of the city). We walked around the narrow little streets and I tried my best to give her little history lessons along the way. It was really cool seeing her react to things that I either walk by everyday or something that I had never noticed before because I do walk by them everyday. After walking around for a little bit, I brought her to the Barcelona famous Bo Da B’s. It is a sandwich shop, which I know I have wrote about before. It is delicious and she loved the sandwich (we went back three more times during her seven day stay). We then walked to get gelato. We went to my favorite place in all of the city and she had her first true, authentic, European gelato experience. After we got lunch and gelato, it was about 9 in the morning her time, she decided it was time for a nap. We went back to my residencia where she napped for about two hours and then we made dinner.
On Saturday night we went to the FC Barcelona game! It was AMAZING! FC Barcelona is the best “futbol (soccer)” team in the world. They won the world cup last year and everyone in Barcelona loves them. The game was being played at the FC Barcelona stadium called Camp Nou. Camp Nou is a world famous stadium. It holds up to 99,000 people and it is ginormous! The best part? We sat five rows from the field, yes five rows. Did you read that right, yes five rows from the field! I could practically touch the players. Messi was standing right in front of me!!!! Messi is considered the best soccer player in all of the world. Barca ended up winning 4-0 and I saw Messi score a goal!! It was amazing. I could not believe the tickets that we got. So worth the money to sit that close to the field. It was such a cool experience and Camp Nou was awesome.
After the game, we met up with some of the other girls in my program and we took Allie to her first European Club. It was really fun. We went to a place called Costa Breve. They played tons of mash ups and all old songs. At this point, Allie had been up forever and we decided it was time to go home because we had a long day (and week) ahead of us!

Day 2:
Allie and I slept until 11:30 on Sunday morning because we were both so tired. The first thing we did was meet my friend Jessica for our second round of Bo Da B’s. We went and ate our lunch on one of the ledges overlooking the port, feet dangling over the edge with the sea underneath. This is the area called Barceloneta. It is right on the water and there are tons of sail boats and little markets everywhere. We wanted to take the gondola from Barceloneta to Montjuic but the line was a 90 minute wait and we didn’t think it would be worth it. Instead, we walked all the way to the Christopher Columbus statue at the end of La Rambla. The walk is really pretty because you walk right along the Mediterranean ports and there are little open air markets with little trinkets. Once we got to the Columbus statue we parted ways with Jessica and took the funicular up to Montjuic. We walked all around the Olympic Stadium. We then made the mistake of walking all the way up to the Castell (kind of a castle, but more of a fortress). I knew there was a gondola but I wasn’t sure how to find it so we walked all the way up. It took a long time, but we finally made it. I had never been up there before and it was awesome! The views from the top were amazing. You could see the entirety of Barcelona and it also overlooked the Mediterranean.
For dinner on Sunday night, I took Allie to my favorite paella place in Barcelona. It is called La Barca de Salamanca. I had been there once before and the paella there is amazing. Paella is a traditional Spanish dish made of rice and seafood. I really like paella... when it is good (you can get some pretty bad paella in the city). We split a one paella, and there was so much food! It was crazy. We also ordered a pitcher of Sangria (rather than a glass) after much persuasion by the waiter. It was Allie’s first taste of Sangria! Sangria is wine and fruit drink that again is very Spanish. It was a very Spanish dinner overall and we ended up sitting there for about three hours just talking and laughing. It was so fun and so nice to have my friend from home here!

Day 3:
Unfortunately I had two classes on Monday so we did not do a lot. I went to my class at CIEE and showed Allie where I take classes and the cute street that the building is on. After my class, I left Allie with my friend Jessica because I had another class and Jessica was free until 3, when my class ended. Jessica brought her to the neighborhood of El Born, took her to see Santa Maria del Mar, Arc de Triumf and Cuitadella. El Born is one of my favorite sections of the city so I am glad that Jessica was able to bring her there or we would not have had time to see it.
When I was out of class, Allie, my friend Kaitlyn and I went to get churros before we had to go to Volunteering. The churros that we got were soooo good, we bought them from a vendor on the street and they were already dipped in chocolate. YUMM. Anyways, so I decided to bring Allie to volunteering seeing as she is studying education in the United States. (I have not written about volunteering, but I volunteer at a school every week for two hours helping in the English class. I am a teachers aid and work with kids between the ages of 9-12. It is really fun and I really like it). We sat in on a classroom and the children were asking us all sorts of questions and we were answering them.
After dinner at the res, we went out to L’Ovella Negra for a glass of sangria. L’Ovella Negra is a rustic bar on la rambla and I thought that it would be cool for her to experience. It is a pretty famous bar (more of a beer hall than bar). We met up with another girl in my program and sat there for a few hours and headed home.

Day 4:
We woke up pretty early on Tuesday morning and made our way to the Sagrada Familia. We were able to walk because I live so close. I had never been inside Sagrada Familia so it was cool that we were both able to experience it for the first time. Sagrada familia is an insanely ornate church designed by Antoni Gaudi. The church has been in construction for over 100 years and still has about 20 more years of construction to go before it is finally finished. There were hardly any people there, so we didn’t have to wait in any line. We decided that it would be best to get the audio guide so we could learn more about the church. The inside was amazing. It is this vast area with all this stained glass and intricately designed structures. We learned all about the reasons why things were made the way they were because of the audio guide and ended up spending about an hour and a half inside.
After Sagrada Familia we did a lot of shopping and I took Allie for her first taste of Tapas! After tapas we did a little more shopping and got gelato from a gelato place (which isn’t my favorite, but definitely needs to be had while in Barcelona). They put the gelato in the form of a flower on your cone.
I then had a field trip for my Barcelona class. It was at the Museu de Catalunya. It was interesting, but it had been a long day and the tour was all in Spanish, so Allie had no idea what was going on and I was too tired to translate.
Later that night, I took Allie to Chupitos. The European bar famous for their selection of over 500 shots. At Chupitos we had Finding Nemo, Willy Wonka, Boy Scout, and Harry Potter (I know what you are thinking, four shots is a lot, but these are more of a fun shot and contain hardly any alcohol). I think I have explained what each shot is in another post, but I will write a brief overview of them here
-Finding Nemo: blue liquid with whipped cream on top and an orange m&m. You need to take the shot with no hands and keep the m&m in your mouth the whole time
-Willy Wonka: chocolate and whipped cream
-Boy Scout: (my fav) roast a marshmallow on the bar (which they set on fire) dip the marshmallow in the shot, eat the marshmallow and take the shot
-Harry Potter- orange slice on top of the shot glass with sugar on it, they take a blow torch and made the orange catch on fire and spark, you then take the shot then eat the orange.
We then walked over to another bar where we found an American and a German playing beer pong. Naturally, we challenged them to a game and ended up hanging out with them all night. Because no one over here knows what beer pong is, we ended up having a crowd of people watching us the whole time. They were so interested in what we were doing. It was really cool because there were people from Germany, China, Amsterdam, and England watching us play. We ended up losing both games that we played, but it was still really fun!

Day 5:
After my class on Wednesday morning, a few of the girls in my program and I went to go and get churros con chocolate from the BEST place for churros in the city. I is a tiny little chocolate shop. They serve you churros with chocolate and whipped cream. They were delicious.
After churros, Kaitlyn, Allie and I headed up to Tibidabo. Tibidabo is way up high on a hill over looking the city and has a really cool church and an amusement park. It was awesome. Definitely one of my favorite views of the city. We were so high and way on the outskirts of the city so you could literally see everything. Also, the sky was so blue and it was beautiful out which made it that much better. We took tons of pictures and went into the church, which from the outside looked really promising, but the inside was not as impressive as I thought it would be (but I had just seen Sagrada Familia the day before). Sidenote: At night, the church on Tibidabo is all lit up and it looks so majestic sitting on the top of the hill from where I live. So cool.
After leaving Tibidabo we went down to the Mediterranean Sea where Allie was able to put her feet in for the first time! The water was pretty cold, but neither of us cared too much, and Allie definitely didn’t care because she was able to touch the Mediterranean!
Later that night, we met up with a bunch of people in my program and went to Hot Bar and Sutton. Sutton is a very upscale Spanish club, and it was a really fun night.

Day 6:
We woke up again pretty early on Thursday morning and made our way to Park Guell. Park Guell is the park designed by Gaudi. It has all mosaic benches everywhere that are curved and look really pretty. It also has a really good view of the city.
Thursday was Thanksgiving so we headed home and began making dinner. My friends Jessica and Kaitlyn joined us as we attempted to make a make-shift thanksgiving meal in a foreign country. Turkey is impossible to come by in Spain so we had to go for chicken instead. Kaitlyn was able to get us some really, really good chicken from her host mom. We attempted to make baked potatoes, green beans, corn, and rolls. Everything except the potatoes came out perfect. We don’t know why the baked potatoes didn’t work. We put them in the oven for about 45 minutes and for some reason they didn’t bake, so we then put them in the microwave for 10 more minutes, but they still weren’t done and everything else was getting cold. I was very, very impressed at our dinner. We were able to time pretty much everything correctly (except the potatoes). We warmed the rolls, the corn and the green beans were done at the same time, and the chicken was warmed. We set the table, went around and said what we were thankful for and chowed down. Everything was very good and it was definitely a good substitute for Thanksgiving dinner. Then for dessert, Kaitlyn surprised us with pumpkin pie which she was able to find in a little bakery near her home-stay. It was the perfect ending.
Even though Allie and I were both exhausted and didn’t want to leave my room, we knew there was one more bar she couldn’t leave Barcelona without visiting. Ice Bar. Ice Bar is a bar that is made completely out of ice. And I mean everything is made of ice. The seats, the bar, the glasses, the walls, and then there are ice sculptures within it. You pay 15 euro to get in and you get a huge puffy warm jacket and gloves. It was sooo cool (no pun intended). It was about -11 degrees Celsius in the bar and after about 25 minutes Allie and I had to leave because we were freezing. There was an ice sculpture of the Sagrada Familia and benches that resembled those at Park Guell. It was really, really cool and we were both glad we went.

Day 7
Friday was Allie’s last full day in Barcelona. We woke up super early and made our way to the Labyrinth! It was a pretty far journey on the metro and then we got a little lost (on the way to the maze, not in the maze... at this point haha) but we eventually found it. It is a labyrinth made out of shrubbery and it took us about 30 minutes to find our way through it. We then went back into the center of the city, where we did more shopping. We also got gelato from my favorite place. The lady who works there as we were saying goodbye said “see you tomorrow”..... I was kind of embarrassed that she knew she would be seeing me in the near future but also proud that I am a regular and she knows me in a foreign country. I should probably see that as a bad thing though, oh well. It is GREAT gelato.
Later that night we met up with Jessica for dinner. We went to Gracia, which a section of the city that is a little more ritzy. I love Gracia, it is so cute and quaint and far away from the city hustle. We ate a really lively square in Gracia and the restaurant was called Bo. They are considered to have the best patatas bravas in the city. We obviously ordered the patatas bravas. They definitely lived up to the standard and were the best I have ever had here! They were soooo good, all three of us were raving about them. Then I ordered a sandwich, which was a spiced sausage called sobressa with cheese and a little bit of honey. It was so delicious. Definitely need to make a trip back to Bo before leaving Spain. We then headed over to make our second trip of gelato. We went to a place that is considered to have the best dark chocolate gelato in the city and apparently they run out of the flavor every night. We were fortunate to make it there before it ran out and I got a huge bowl of the dark chocolate gelato. It was amazing.
We then were headed over to watch the water fountain show at Montjuic, but there was a problem with the fountain and there wasn’t a show. It was very disappointing because I was looking forward to bringing Allie to see it because it is so cool. Because it wasn’t happening, Jessica, Allie and I went back to my residencia where we watched the Justin Bieber movie. It was actually really fun despite the setback. We went to bed right after because we had an early morning on Saturday in order to get Allie to the airport.

Day 8:
We woke up super early Saturday morning and went to the airport. It was sad saying bye to Allie because it was so awesome having her here this week, especially during Thanksgiving, where I know I could have been very homesick. I watched her off through security and headed to the train station to continue my crazy week and went on a day trip to the Spanish city of Girona!

Posted by kerryeaton 07:57 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

CIAO! - Roma (part 3/3)

Day 3

sunny

It was another early morning in Rome on Sunday and I was finally going to see the Colosseum! We met Tess again for breakfast. This time I got a pastry filled with strawberry jam and some sort of cheese (might have been a mix between ricotta/cream cheese, I am not sure). It was unbelievable! I also had a cappuccino again. This time they put cocoa powder on the cappuccino. It was really delicious. I also tried some of Tess’ donut filled with nutella. Amazinggg! Kaitlyn and I then headed over to the Colosseum and the Foro Romano (Roman forum). We were told by Tess to go to the Foro Romano first and get a dual ticket to both the Foro and the Colosseum so that we could skip the line at the Colosseum, and thank god she told us that. The Foro Romano is where Rome was originally settled. There are tons of ancient ruins everywhere. There was a necropolis (cemetery) and there were tons of ruins which they have discovered to be houses and churches. It was really, really cool. I am such a history nerd, so I obviously loved walking around ruins which were over 2000 years old. We then walked over to the Colosseum. It was even better in the day. Definitely my favorite part about Rome. The sky was perfectly blue, there was green grass in front of it, and it just looked beautiful. We were able to completely skip the line (which was now winding half way around the Colosseum and was probably at least a two hour wait to get in). We walked in within three minutes of getting there. The inside was very cool. There were still seats intact and you could see where the stairs were. The center part had a maze type look to it. I am not sure how gladiator games went, but I’m sure it would have been pretty cool to have experienced a show in the Colosseum (maybe minus the murdering of another human being, which is why it was eventually outlawed once Christianity began getting popular in the early centuries.) The Colosseum could hold between 50,000 and 70,000 spectators! Which wasn’t even 1/10 of the population at that time. Rome was the first city in the world to reach one million people and it was in the first century AD. The next city to reach one million was London, in 1890! Back to the Colosseum, so we walked around it for a little while longer and then we were meeting up with Tess to get the “best tiramisu in Italy.”
We found the tiramisu place and it was called Pompi. I tried the original and the banana, dark chocolate with nutella. They were both amazing, but the original was unreal. I don’t think I had ever eaten tiramisu and now I probably won’t be able to because this restaurant set my standards too high. After finishing dessert, Kaitlyn and I went to get another sandwich from a little deli. It was not as good as Volpetti (which we got the first day) but it was still amazing. Then we made our way over to Gioliti’s. The best gelato place in all of Italy. For 2.50 euro I was able to get three scoops of ice cream plus whipped cream. I decided on chocolate fondante (dark chocolate) vanilla and raspberry. IT WAS AMAZING. The dark chocolate was maybe one of the best things I have ever tasted in my entire life. Nothing will ever beat it. Gioliti’s, you rock!
We had only a few more hours to kill before we needed to head to the airport for our flight back to Barcelona. We decided to go shopping! What better place than to go shopping in Italy. I ended up spontaneously buying an Italian leather bag. It is green (I am on a green kick lately, purse, just bought a pair of green pants). I love it so much and I definitely look cool and eurochic wearing it.
We then headed back to our hotel, where we reluctantly repacked our bags to fly home. We made it in plenty of time and waited around in the swamped airport. We had the last flight of the night. I was sad to leave Rome because I loved it so much. I really hope that the next time I make it back is before I take a family vacation there with my kids. Hopefully, the one coin I tossed into the Trevi fountain will work its magic and send me back there soon. I absolutely loved everything about Rome and it is definitely one of my top favorite cities in Europe, if not my favorite. CIAO BELLA ROMAAA!

Posted by kerryeaton 12:16 Archived in Italy Tagged rome Comments (0)

Vatican City - Roma (pt. 2/3)

Day 2

sunny

We woke up pretty early on Saturday morning so that we wouldn’t waste the day away. We met our friend Tess for breakfast. We went to a little cafe right near the hotel. It is the cafe that Tess always goes to because they have great pastries. I got a donut and it tasted kind of like fried dough. It was so delicious. I also got a Cappuccino, Italian style! It really didn’t taste that much different from the coffee in Spain, but I felt cooler drinking it while being in Italy. After breakfast we went to the next shop over where we got our lunch. I have to say, best sandwich I have ever eaten in my entire life. I got prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes. The bread was a pizza crust cut in two halves. I was dying with deliciousness. It was also a really big sandwich (don’t worry I obviously finished it). We then made our way by bus to Vatican City!
The bus let us off right in front of St. Peter’s Square. We signed up for a 1:15 tour of the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, and then we were free to go into St. Peter’s Basilica after. Right before our tour, however, we hit a little road bump. Story:
Kaitlyn needed to get money out of the ATM in order to pay for our tour because it needed to be paid in cash. We found an ATM right in St. Peter’s Square. Kaitlyn puts her card in and all of a sudden the screen goes blank and nothing is happening. We are standing there trying to push all the buttons to try to get her card out. Still nothing is happening. I am running around the bank trying to get in (I can’t read Italian and therefore had no idea it was closed on Saturday). I was trying to call a number for the bank, but again, my lack of Italian, I had no idea which number was correct. A lady got in line behind Kaitlyn and I went up to her and asked her if she knew English. She replied she knew a little and I explained that Kaitlyn’s card was stuck in the machine. As she walks towards the machine she takes something out of her pocket. She was an undercover police officer! Talk about lucky! She was trying to help us by calling the company, then she called over her supervisor, who was also undercover and two dressed police officers. Needless to say, people were now staring as two American girls are being surrounded by four Roma police officers. It was out of a movie. We continued with the hand gestures, tried speaking in english and spanish, but the language barrier was too much. I then remembered that I had downloaded a translator app for my iphone, and luckily I brought it with me that day. We were able to use the translator app to help communicate. It was now 1 o’clock and the tour started at 1:15 and Kaitlyn still didn’t have her card. We decided just to cancel her card and go on the tour of the Vatican.
We met our tour guide, who was an archeologist living in Rome, but was originally from Ireland. He was very knowledgable and the tour that was supposed to last three hours ended up lasting four and a half. He was awesome and it was so worth the 28 euro we spent to learn the history of Vatican city.
Vatican City is enclosed within a wall because it is technically its own country. In order to get in, you have to go through security, metal detectors and all. Once we got in, we got our head sets in order to hear what the tour guide was saying and we were off. The first place we went to was the Papal gardens. It was essentially just lawn, but it is where the Pope greets anyone who comes to visit him. We then made our way through the Vatican museum. The ceilings of the Vatican museum were incredible. Everything was so intricately decorated. We walked through a series of rooms with huge tapestries and statues. We then finally made it to the Sistine Chapel.
You walk into this giant room and you look up and there is the ceiling, famously painted by Michelangelo. We had been given a ton of information prior to going into the Sistine Chapel because you are not allowed to talk once inside. You are also not allowed to take pictures inside. Some people were taking pictures very discretely, but I thought there was something cool about not being able to take a picture. It is some place where you actually have to go in order to appreciate it and it was the first thing I was no allowed to take a picture of. Obviously the most famous of the paintings on the ceiling is of God and Adam, where God’s and Adam’s fingers are almost touching. It was definitely my favorite picture. It was very interesting because the tour guide told us that at the time that Michelangelo painted the ceiling, the renaissance artists had been dissecting human cadavers to learn about the body. In the picture with God and Adam, god is resting on what appears to be a human brain! I never would have picked up on the image of the brain had the tour guide not pointed it out. The ceiling took Michelangelo over four years to paint and did a severe number on his health. He had neck and back problems and had crippling headaches due to paint falling in his eyes. What also makes the Sistine Chapel so amazing is that it is Fresco art. That means that the dye from the paint is placed directly into plaster, so that the pigments stay there forever. The plaster only stays wet for about 60-90 minutes and then it is too dry to continue painting and if you mess up, you start all over again.
The other important painting in the Sistine Chapel is the one painted on the wall behind the altar. One of the Popes was able to persuade Michelangelo to come back and paint that wall, even though he vowed to never set foot in the Chapel ever again. What was cool about that painting was that it was one of the first optical illusions. Up close it looks like a normal painting, but take a few steps back and you can see that there is a skull (another clue to Michelangelo’s anatomy knowledge.) Furthermore, every person depicted in the pictures represents either a saint, an apostle or someone Michelangelo knew.
After leaving the Sistine Chapel, we saw the door where the new pope walks when elected to reach the tower where he greets the people. The last pope that was elected greeted over 5 million people in St. Peter’s Square. We then headed to St. Peter’s Basilica.
St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the entire world. I walked in and was completely speechless at both the size of the church and the intricate detailing over every part of the walls, ceilings, floors, domes, everything, you name it. We walked around admiring everything and it was amazing. I then blessed myself with the water blessed by Pope Benedict XVI!!! It was sooo cool. There was a mass going on while we were in there, and we wanted to go but once you walked in (they had it all roped off, the church is so big that all the tourists were far enough away that it didn’t interrupt the mass) you were not allowed to leave and it would have taken too long. There are actually two altars within St. Peter’s because one of them is strictly for use only by the Pope. The size and decorations of St. Peter’s was magnificent and was very cool to see.
By this time it was almost six o’clock and we were meeting Tess and her parents for dinner soon. I had not seen the Colosseum yet, and I really wanted to see it at night so we headed over in that direction. It was unreal. There was a full moon and there were no tourists around. And it is huge! I do not understand how they built it. It was first constructed in 72 ad! There were no cranes or anything, they literally lifted all the blocks with their own bare hands. I complain when I have to roll my duffle bag from the airport, and they built giant structures.
After seeing the Colosseum, we went and met Tess and her parents and walked across the river to a little restaurant. We went to a restaurant called i deu cicione, which translated is called the two fat men. It was literally food cooked out of this Italian man’s kitchen. The bathroom was his bathroom, he had laundry in the washing machine. It was crazy. We sat down and the food started coming. First off, it was unlimited wine. Even though I don’t really like wine, I felt pretty cool drinking Italian wine with dinner (You would think I would be over feeling cool that I can drink wine at dinner when I go out to eat, but it just doesn’t get old for me). First course was delicious bread topped with chopped tomatoes and olive oil, squash, and beans. Second course was three different types of pasta: one with red sauce, one with parmesan and peppers, and one was carbonarra. I liked the one with parmesan and pepper the best because it was a little spicy and I love white sauce. After that came pork and chicken. Finally we had cookies and dark chocolate truffles, the dark chocolate truffles were amazing and I took four of them home with me. We then had lemon chello, which is a typical European after dinner sipping shot and some other type of grape vine shot which tasted horrible. We sat at the restaurant for a while talking with Tess and her parents and then we headed back to the hotel, where I was so ready for bed because we had a big day following. Finally going to see the Colosseum!

Posted by kerryeaton 10:46 Archived in Italy Tagged rome Comments (0)

Bella Roma! part 1/3

Day 1

sunny

Rome was absolutely amazing. I loved (pretty much) everything about the city. The architecture was breath-taking, the weather was perfect, and the food was delicious. I did so much in the three days I was in Rome that this post is going to be in three parts.
Day 1:
I had planned the trip so that I would leave very early Friday morning. I wanted to make sure that I had a full three days in Rome. I went to bed at 1 am Friday morning because I was unable to fall asleep and three short hours later I was waking up to catch my flight to Italy! I was in a cab and en route to the airport by 4:30 am Friday morning. I was able to meet up with my friend Kaitlyn at the airport. It was perfect timing at the airport because we got there at the exact same time. We checked-in, went through security and waited for our 6:10 flight to ROMA! We were the first flight out of the morning, so the airport was empty and none of the food places were open. From the plane window (I obviously got a window seat) I saw maybe the most amazing sunrise I had ever seen in my entire life. I tried taking pictures of it but the window of the plane with the reflections did not do it justice. It looked like it could have been painted. We arrived in Rome before 8 am. I was able to see Vatican City and the Colosseum from the plane. It was at this moment, my life seemed so surreal. I have never experienced a surreal moment as strong as I did at that moment that the plane was landing in Italy. I was grinning from ear to ear. I could not believe that I was actually in Italy. Italy always seemed like such a far-away romanticized place and I was there! It was a crazy feeling and I was so excited.
Our friend Tess is studying in Rome right now so she booked the hotel for us. All we had was the address and a map and we were on our own. We took a bus from the airport to the metro station and then took the metro. The metro system in Rome is seriously lacking compared to the metro system in Barcelona, but in a city like Rome where there are ruins every other foot, it was better that we were forced to walk everywhere because we were able to see some really cool ruins. When we exited the metro station, right in front of us where these giant Roman ruins! It was called Circo Massimo and it was where the chariot races were held in ancient Rome. It was a very impressive first sight to see in Rome. We ended up finding our hotel. It was set in this cute little neighborhood, and it was what you pictures typical Italy to look like. There was an iron gate that opened and a narrow little driveway leading up to the hotel. The hotel keeper was a little old Italian women. We got our room, settled down and decided to head out and explore the city.
Seeing as it was 11/11/11, Kaitlyn and I wanted to make a wish at 11:11. We were hoping to make it to the Trevi Fountain, but we were to far away. We found this other little fountain and threw coins in it at 11:11. People must have thought we were crazy because that was not the fountain to throw coins in, so my friend and I were jokingly asking “oh, is this is Trevi Fountain?!” (We did later find out that Audrey Hepburn threw coins into that fountain, so we didn’t choose a complete dud to make a wish on 11/11/11 at 11:11.) We walked all the way to the Trevi Fountain, but not without passing some pretty cool landmarks. We first walked past this giant white building, which we later found out was a museum. It was a white building with tons of steps and statues of horses. From the building I could see the Colosseum in the background. We continued onward and eventually made it to the Trevi Fountain. All I can say is wow! It was amazing. The fountain itself is huge! The contrast between the blue, blue sky and the white of the fountain made it unbelievable. Of course it was packed with tourists, but I was still able to throw my coins in! I didn’t know going into it that there were sayings about how many coins to throw in. I threw in three the first time, which apparently means you will either have marriage or divorce (I am hoping for the first one) and then when we went later on at night I threw in one coin, which means that you will return to Rome (which I hope will definitely happen). After taking tons of touristy pictures and throwing the coins in, I was in desperate need of some Italian gelato and food. Gelato was not hard to find. There were probably as many gelato places in Italy as there were chocolatiers in Belgium. Kaitlyn and I were very picky though and did not want to commit to a bad one (as if there were any bad ones). We found a little cafe and sat down and ate some Italian pizza! YUMM. I got a mushroom and sausage slice. It was so good (but little did I know that it would only be 1/10 of how good the pizza was that we would be getting for dinner later on). After lunch we continued to wander. We kept walking and all of a sudden, right in front of us was the Pantheon! We did not even know we were going in the right direction and there it was. It was set in the middle of a square and it was a lot bigger than I had imagined. The outside was a dark grey color, which I later read that it is actually made of lead. We then went inside and it was amazing! The roof is a dome, but in the center there is a hole. No one knows why they put a hole in the roof and it is also an architectural wonder as to how they made it and how it is still standing. Historians are not positive of the use of the building. It was very cool to go inside and see what it looked like. At this point I really, really wanted gelato. I was told, by multiple sources, to go a place called Gioliti’s. I knew the name of street so we ended up walking that way; however, we got a little sidetracked when we found a gelato place offering 108 flavors. We decided to stop there instead. Seeing 108 flavors of gelato was very impressive. It was a winding counter and every type of flavor you ever wanted. For 2.50 euro I got three giant scoops (in Barcelona they charge you 2.50 for one measly scoop). I got dark chocolate, cookie dough flavored and cappuccino. Needless to say it was delicious.
We then met our friend Tess, who is studying in Rome and she and her friend wanted Gelato also. We walked to the place called Gioliti’s, but Kaitlyn and I decided to save it for another time. We then walked back to where Tess lives. She lives in a convent, yes an actual convent with actual nuns. It was a really cute set up though. She had a nice little backyard with seating and everything. The convent was also only about a five minute walk from our hotel, which made things very easy because Kaitlyn and I were never left walking alone through Rome (which would not have been a problem, but it was nice to have someone with you who knew exactly where they were going at all times). That night we went out to a pizza place called Bar Punto. It is Tess and her friends favorite pizza spot in all of Rome. I am in agreement with their choice. They had all these different kinds of funky pizzas, and every single one of them was delicious. I got a brushetta (I can’t be positive of what it is called, but it sound like how I spelt the name), mozzarella and parmesan pizza. It was soooooooo goood. I tried everyone else’s pizza as well. There was zucchini and cheese, buffalo cheese, tomato and basil, and some others but I have no idea how to say/spell/know what they were. After dinner, Tess wanted to show us the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon at night, and bring us to another one of her favorite gelato places. The Trevi Fountain at night was amazing. It was all lit up and against the black sky, fabulous. We then walked over the Pantheon, which was also very cool to see at night, but it was a little less lit up so it wasn’t as cool as the Trevi Fountain. We walked over to the gelato place. I got grapefruit and honey. The grapefruit was sorbet, so it was a little sour but still very good and the honey was amazing. I usually don’t really like honey, but as a gelato it was very refreshing and really light.
At this point it was 1 in the morning and I had been up and walking around for 21 straight hours. It was time for bed. We walked back to the hotel and I was out like a light in about 3 seconds.

Posted by kerryeaton 02:26 Archived in Italy Tagged rome Comments (0)

Rainy Barcelona

rain

So I haven’t updated my blog in a while, so I figured today would be a good day to jot some things down. It has been raining this whole weekend, which has really put a damper on things (pun intended). So what has been going on in the life of Kerry for the past three weeks? As far as I am concerned, pretty much nothing, just doing the same old things, loving life here in Barcelona, but to everyone else, I have probably been doing a lot. I have been in Barcelona for the past two weekends, which has been extremely nice. I was so glad that I decided to stay in town these two weeks because the three weekends prior of constant travel was tiring and it was nice to just walk around a city, that I know well and leisurely, rather than trying to scramble to see every historic sight in 48 hours. The weather here is starting to get a little cooler (mid 60’s) which is a nice change and I can finally start to wear half the clothes I brought here instead of the same pair of shorts everyday.
This past week I had midterms. I think it is impossible for me to study in this city. I was distracted every ten minutes because I was thirsty, or I was hungry, or I needed to check Facebook or . . . etc. I did make it through the week, and hopefully with high grades. Here are some of the things I have been doing:
Magic Fountain Show: In front of Montjuic (a huge building that looks like a palace) there is a water fountain. The water fountain is really big and every Friday and Saturday night they put on a water show. It lasts for two hours and the water turns different colors and has different designs and is choreographed to music. You go at night, so it is really dark out and then Montjuic is lit up in the background and then there is just a giant fountain spewing water in every which direction. It is a really cool sight to see. I have now gone to that the past two weekends in a row and each time I went it was different. I filmed part of it so hopefully I can get a video posted to my website!
Saturday night I went to my friend Kaitlyn’s home-stay for dinner with her host mom. I love her host mom!! She is the cutest. I went to Sarria, the area where Kaitlyn lives on Saturday morning because there was a big festival celebrating one of the bakeries there. The festival ended up being a dud, but when I saw Kaitlyn’s host mom, Rosa, she insisted that I come for dinner. I had met Rosa one other time, so this was my second time. I went over after the fountain shows and Rosa greeted me with her giant smile, gave me the two kisses on the cheek, and readily handed me my plate and said “sientase guapa!” Meaning sit, pretty. (Everyone refers to other people as guapa, which literally means pretty, she always refers to us as guapas, it is so cute). She made us a vegetable mix, grilled chicken, and pan con tomate (traditional spanish dish, bread with crushed tomato and olive oil, it is pretty much seen as a sin if you eat dinner without it). We sat there and talked about traveling and our day, and she made jokes with us. She is the best!
Because it has been raining this weekend, unfortunately my great plans for the weekend had changed. I was originally going to go to the labyrinth in Barcelona today. I have never been, but I heard it was really big and fun, but I did not think being lost in maze in the pouring rain would be any fun so my friend and I decided to check out some museums instead. There is rumor floating around that all museums are free on the first Sunday of every month. It is not true. Some museums are free, others are not. So my friend and I wondered down to the Cathedral of Barcelona and went inside. We forgot, however, that it was a Sunday morning and mass would be going on, so we were only able to see a little bit of the church. We then wondered over the the neighborhood called El Born. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Barcelona because it is so quaint. We ended up taking a wrong turn and finding this archeology museum! We decided to try it (it was not free). The museum had remains from animals from over 10,000 years old! There were fossils from before the ice age, animals that were completely preserved because of the ice age, and information on a lot of prehistoric animals that are found in the Spain area. They had replicas of Woolley Mammoths, Saber-tooth Tigers (which I did not know did not exist anymore...), and all other sorts of giant animals like hairy rhinoceros (who knew those existed?). They also had replicas of cave drawings. It was really, really cool and I am so glad we stumbled upon it and went inside. The next museum we went to was the Pre-Columbian museum. This time the museum was free, but I did not like it at all and would have been mad if I had paid. It only had little Incan figurines everywhere. I spent about ten minutes there and then decided to go get lunch.
Bo Da B’s - I don’t think I have talked about this restaurant yet, but it deserves to be talked about. I have gone here about three times in the past two weeks for lunch. They have the BEST sandwiches in Barcelona. Actually, I can’t decide if they have the best sandwiches or if I just think they are the best because they are bigger than most bocadillos (sandwich in Spanish) in Spain or because they aren’t made of ham and cheese. Maybe it is a little of both. Anyways, this sandwich shop makes homemade bread, which is delicious. Then you chose either hamburger or chicken. Then you decide between feta cheese or manchango cheese. You then add as many toppings as you want: avocado, corn, lettuce, tomato, onions, and all different kinds of sauces. It is delicious, and it is only 5 euro! Which is very cheap compared to other places where you get a sandwich half the size. Another place that I found which has a great deal is called Pizza del Born. You get two slices of pizza (not the American size pizza slices, smaller) and a drink for 3.90 euros.

So that is about all I have to update! Tonight I am going to a bar with some people from my program to watch the Pats Giants game, which should be fun. Fingers crossed they are actually showing the game. Then I head off to ROMA on Friday morning!!

Here is the link to watch my video of the water fountain show! : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sNFaTo1184

Posted by kerryeaton 09:51 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

A Weekend in the South of Spain

Seville y Cordoba

sunny

This weekend I took a trip to Seville and Cordoba. I fell in love with Southern Spain. It was so different from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, much more rustic and more of what you picture Spain to look like. I left really early Friday morning to catch the plane with the rest of the abroad group. This trip was planned by my program, which made it very nice when traveling because I didn't have to think about anything. The flight was pretty short and we made it to Seville by 10:30 am. When I walked outside the airport it looked exactly like Florida (as if Barcelona doesn't). The sun was shining and it was warmer than in Barcelona. We then checked into our FOUR star hotel! Living the high life for two nights, which was pretty well received on my end (especially since it came with breakfast, and not the typical you can have one slice of ham and a piece of bread European breakfast, it was a full fledged american breakfast!).
The walk from the hotel to the center of Seville was beautiful. I turned the corner and all of a sudden there was a massive cathedral right in front of me. It is the largest Gothic building the world, the biggest cathedral in Spain, and the third biggest cathedral in the world behind St. Peter's at the Vatican and St. Paul's in London. Seville has a very moorish feel to it, because of the Muslim influence during the 8th and 9th century. Our activity for the day was a city tour. They brought us all around the city giving us information and cool little tid bits. The houses in Seville were beautiful. A lot of houses keep their doors open all the time because it gets really hot, so you are able to look right into the homes; however, they are not typical homes like what we have in America. Pretty much every house has a patio on the first floor. You open the door and there is a tiled walkway. The tiles look so pretty and are really eccentric colors. Then the patio has tons of plants and little benches and flowers, surrounded by more tiles. I want my house to be like that! Our tour ended by taking us into the cathedral.
The cathedral was HUGE! Once you get inside there is a gigantic forum outside. Planted in the forum are orange trees! There were rows and rows of oranges, but they are not in season right now, so you had to look closely to see the little green oranges. Then you walk into the actual cathedral. It was maybe one of the coolest buildings I have ever gone into. There were just rows and rows of columns and then right in the middle was the alter. Surrounding the alter were gold figures from the floor to the ceiling. It makes me wonder how people were able to build things like that. We then got to go up the tower, which was the last remaining part of the Mosque before it was transformed into a cathedral. You had to walk up to the top, 38 flights of.... ramps! Instead of stairs the people who built the tower used ramps because the people used to ride horses up to the top. Horses wouldn't be able to go up stairs, so they made it with ramps. So clever! The view from the top was really cool and I was able to see the entirety of Seville.
Later that night, some friends and I decided to go see the Placa de Espanya. It looked far on the map, but in reality it was probably only a 20 minute walk from the hotel. We stopped at this festival of the world (I don't remember what it was actually called, but it kind of resembled Epcot). It was so fun! There were tents set up from all different countries around the world selling traditional food. We stopped at France to get a crepe! Bananas and chocolate. YUM! It was so funny because we wanted to find the United States tent to see what they had. It was a tiny tent over the back corner, the US and Canada were combined and all they had were ribs and duff beer. (Duff beer is the beer on the Simpsons and actually isn't even a real type of beer). There were tons of people at the festival and not one person sitting down at the United States. It was very comical. We then made our way over to Placa Espanya, where there was a huge building. I was expecting a cool plaza or something, not an entire building! It even had a moat around it. It was really pretty to see it at night, but the park closed at 12, so we were unfortunately kicked out by the security guards. We also went back the on Sunday to see it again in the day time, which was also really cool because there were horse drawn carriages, row boats in the moat, and people everywhere.
The next day we had a day trip to Cordoba. It took about an hour an a half by bus to get there. I was able to see some of the Spanish country-side though. It wasn't that exciting. Looked like, what I am assuming, the middle of the United States. There wasn't much to do in Cordoba except visit the old Mosque, which was pretty fantastic. The mosque was pretty much the same as the cathedral in Seville with the orange trees, but the inside was quite a bit different. There were soooo many arches when you walked inside the mosque. It was also interesting because once the Moors lost power in Spain, the mosque was converted to a church. So there is a juxtaposition of christian symbols with islamic architecture that makes it really interesting and weird at the same time. I then walked around Cordoba a little bit. We were told to get the eggplant with honey tapa. IT WAS DELICIOUS. It was a lightly fried eggplant drizzles with honey. YUM!
Once we got back to Seville, we decided to go out to dinner. We were going to go for traditional tapas, but at this point I am pretty sure everyone is sick of tapas, so we decided on this really cute Italian place. I can't wait to go to Italy if this restaurant was any indication of the food I will be eating there. I got fresh fettucine with alfredo. I ate the entire bowl, it was so good. After dinner we were all exhausted so we just went back to the hotel to sleep. The next morning I went to the Palace in Seville. It is the oldest palace still in use (whatever that means because I am pretty sure no one lives there). The palace itself was amazing. Every room was tiled and there was a huge garden, complete with labyrinth (don't get to jealous, it was a spiral, and not that cool). The place was huge and beautiful. Maybe someday I will marry into the Spanish royal family.
All in all, I loved Seville. I have decided that it is probably my favorite city in Spain (I don't count Barcelona because I am living here; therefore, I have a completely different view on it). I think if I were to move back to Europe after college, or whenever really, I would choose Seville. It is a city without the huge city feel. The people are really nice, the weather is amazing and the food is way better than Barcelona. Southern Spain, YOU ROCK!

Posted by kerryeaton 13:30 Archived in Spain Tagged seville Comments (0)

LISBON LISBON LISBON

Portugal!

sunny

Lisbon was amazing!! I don't even know where to start or how to describe my love for the city and the country of Portugal. I left on Friday night from Barcelona and landed in Lisbon around 10pm. From the airport, I made my way to my hostel, called Travellers House. I found Travellers House on a website for different hostels and it was rated the number 1 hostel in Portugal in 2010, so I figured that would be the best bet for my first hostel experience. The hostel was located on the main pedestrian street of Lisbon and was really easy to find. When we found the hostel, we walked in and we were given the tour. The people are the hostel were soo incredibly nice. On Saturday morning, one of the workers sat with my friend and I and planned out our entire day with us. I had done some research on places that I wanted to see and he marked the map, with the modes of transportation and gave us insider local tips. The hostel was just what you would imagine a youth hostel in Europe to look like. There was a great big room where there were tons of couches and bean bags, then there was a kitchen and a dining area. We were then taken up to our room. We knew that we were in a six person room, so we were unsure of who the other four people would be. It ended up being four other girls from the United States. The room my friend and I got was awesome. We had our own little room off of the big room where the other girls were staying. There were bunk beds in the room and the bathroom was down the hall. After staying in a hostel I totally understand why people continually go back to different hostels and why the whole "hostel world" traveling thing is so cool.
After setting up our room and unpacking a little bit, we headed downstairs to meet some of the other travellers and see what was going on. It was really cool because people would just come up and talk to you because most of the people were either traveling alone or only had one friend with them, so it was nice to meet and talk to a bunch of different people. Some of the people were going out to a neighborhood called Bairro Alto. Bairro Alto is an area of the city where all the bars are. Literally, all the bars are in this neighborhood. There were tons and tons of people everywhere. In the streets, in the bars, it was crazy. I thought Barcelona was crowded, Lisbon was way more crowded. Bairro Alto has tons of tiny little streets that are really windy. My friend and I found had been told that when in Portugal, we had to get a Caipirinha. It is like a mojito, but Portuguese style. The only problem was we did not know how to say the name of the drink. We found these two girls who knew what we were talking about and we had them order it for us. We began talking to them and asked if they were from Lisbon, their response: kind of, but Africa. hmm? My friend and I were a little confused. Then the bartender began talking and laughing with the girls in Portuguese and the only word I could make out was America and English. Pretty sure we were the brunt of the joke. We sat at that bar for the rest of the night and then made our way back to the hostel. How did we make it back to the hostel? The only directions we were given when we left the hostel of how to get back was to go downhill. There were no other directions, just go downhill. So there I was in a foreign city in Europe, where I don't speak the language, and the only thing I knew were those directions. However, the directions were right and we ended up right at our hostel.
The next day, we woke up pretty early to make sure that we got a full day of touring in. We went downstairs, where two women were cooking breakfast, eggs and toast. We set our route for the day and we were off. The first thing we did was take the trolley up to an area called Graca. We were told to take the trolley at least once during our stay in lisbon. The trolley is a very cool, rustic looking trolley car on tracks that takes you through the winding roads of the old city and is pretty much a roller coaster ride. We took it up to the Graca stop and we were told to walk down through, or in the hostel workers world "get lost," to get to the places we wanted to see. The first thing we did was go to the Feira da Ladra Market, or better known as the market of stolen goods. Everything at the market was definitely stolen. It was a street that was packed with vendors, selling things with nothing of importance. We then wondered around that area trying to find the Castello de São Jorge (Castle of Saint George). We were a little lost, but that is what the guy at the hostel told us to do. We ended up meeting people from England also trying to find the castle and also met some women from New Jersey. Finally, we made it to the castle.
Castello de São Jorge was a castle and a military fortress. The castle part was soo cool. It looked like a sand castle mold. Perfectly cut out squares from the top, a little moat surrounding it. It was very very cool. We were able to walk all around the castle, up on the outside and in all the towers. I felt like I was in the army trying to protect the city. The views from the top of the castle were amazing. It was set on the highest point of the city, so looking down at the city that leads right to the river was really cool (expect for the fact that it was a little hazy, which was unfortunate). After the castle we wandered down to an area called Alfama. We passed the National Palace and then found the Lisbon Cathedral. We went in the Cathedral, which was pretty cool, but looked like any other European church. After all the walking, we were ready to head back to the Rua de Augusta, where the hostel was, and where there were tons of cool little shops. We really wanted to find gelato ( as per always) so we found this little place. In Europe all the gelato shops have windows facing the street where you order and then usually have a different entrance to get inside. We were looking at the flavors and they were all pretty weird, pear, rice pudding, and we noticed there were no chocolate flavors. My friend and I were saying "what kind of gelato place is this with no chocolate" so we decided to keep walking. Little did we know, but when we passed the door entrance to the store, there was an entire freezer devoted simply to the chocolate flavors. I guess we judged too quickly. I got 70% chocolate and a chocolate/coconut mix. YUM! We walked down to the Praca do Comércio to eat our gelato. Placa do Comércio was soooo coool. It is a giant square set right at the end of the Rua de Augusta (street where the hostel was and the largest pedestrian street in Lisbon) and overlooks the river. It is surrounded on three sides by huge, bright yellow buildings. The one directly across from the river has a giant arc which you can see the Rua de Augusta through. In the middle of the square there is a statue, which is an aqua color. The pictures from the square are awesome because of the huge contrast in colors. Near one of the buildings there was a flea market. I bought two scarves. I have never seen scarves like the ones that I got there, and they were so cheap! We then walked up and down the Rua de Augusta and finally back to the hostel.
For dinner, my friend and I asked the hostel where they would recommend we go. One of the guys told us to go to Casa do Alentejo. He said he wished someone had brought him there his first time in Lisbon. It was right near the hostel, which was very convenient. We had to walk through hoards of other restaurants, with the hosts following you and asking you to sit down and shoving the menu in your face. We finally found the place, and it was definitely one that I never would have found/chosen in a million years. On the outside it just has blue neon lights and a tiny tiny door to go through. Once you get inside however, it is a refurbished Bohemian Palace. Not to shabby. We ordered our dinner. We got scrambled eggs and sausage, and a traditional Portuguese dish called migas. Migas is "fried bread mixed with water," and pork, needless to say, we weren't really sure what we getting ourselves into, but in the end it was really good! We then went back to the hostel where we signed up for a bar crawl! My very first bar crawl!! We had a guide and he took us to five different bars in Bairro Alto, and then to a portuguese club down by the river. We went with one other boy person from the US, two germans (one girl, one boy), one boy from the Netherlands and one boy from Scotland. It was really, really fun!
On Sunday we went to a neighborhood called Belém. We had to take the tram there, which was a process in and of itself because of the amounts of people on the tram, but we eventually made it. The first thing we did was go to Jerónimos Monastery. It was this huge white monastery and church. We went into the Monastery first and went into the court yard. There were tons of arches and a fountain in the middle. It was really gorgeous. We then went into the church part, where we saw Vasco de Gama's tomb!!!! I did not know he was buried there, and that was really cool. The church itself was also really nice, with the high arches and stained glass windows. We then walked around down to the monument of discovery, which was attributed to all the explorers. Our last stop in Belém was the Pastéis de Belém. Everywhere I looked, online, in my travel books, the hostel, said that this was NOT a place to miss, and how right they were. Pastéis de Belém is a pastry shop in the center of Belém. The place was packed and I understand why. They have world famous pastries called Pastéis de Nata, or if you just say Pastéis de Belém, that works too. The shop makes over 7000 a day, along with the massive amount of other things they sell. Pastéis de Belém are these little, almost half cupcake type things. The middle is filled with a creamy custard and the outside is kind of the consistency of a croissant, but fried and crispy. My friend and I each ordered two, maybe we should have each ordered four, they were that good. They came out warm, and were absolutely delicious!
It was finally time for our trip to Lisbon to be over, which was very unfortunate. But the end of the trip proved to not be that easy. My friend and I had bought tickets for the last aerobus leaving the BCN airport to get to the center of Barcelona on the Friday before we left. Our flight was supposed to get in at 12:35am and the last bus leaves at 1:05am. My friend and I got off the plane at 1:00am. We sprinted through the airport at 1 in the morning to catch this bus. People probably thought that we were crazy because there were no more flights taking off and we were just running to the exit. We made it to the bus at 1:05 exactly. When we saw the bus we high fived, and everyone on the bus started laughing at us. We were the last two on the bus and it left probably 20 seconds after we sat down. Lucky, Lucky.
My trip to Lisbon was amazing and I loved the country of Portugal. I hope I can make it back some day and stay longer than 48 hours.
LOVE LISBON!!

Posted by kerryeaton 01:22 Archived in Portugal Tagged lisbon Comments (1)

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