I've been on Spring Break 2010, stopping in Italy, Prague and Budapest. My friends and I packed all our things in backpacks and hopped on the plane, ready for a wonderful trip. We worked on our tans in Italy, ate good food for every meal, had treats galore, and saw every site we could ever want to. Some highlights for you.
- Eating gelato twice a day in Italy. If I had studied abroad there, I would probably only eat gelato. I think I got my fill for the week I was in Italy. In a cone, with two flavors, the combos are endless. We even splurged on Easter Saturday and got the 4euro cone at Old Bridge, right outside the Vatican. I never thought ice cream could be so good. Nothing beats licking a cone of strawberry, banana, and chocolate gelato next to the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
- Being literally feet away from the Pope. Even now, with all the scandal of the Catholic Church, seeing the Pope is pretty cool. On Friday in Rome, the Pope did the Stations of the Cross right outside the Colosseum. Thousands of people stood outside with candles, listening to the Pope say the stations in different languages. We were farther away, on top of this hill, but it paid off. As it was nearing the end, police starting putting up barricades on the street so we rushed over to see why. We were the first ones over there, and it turned out the Pope would be leaving on that street. He drove by us with his entourage, (not in the Pope mobile though) waving and smiling at everyone. We could practically touch him, and it was amazing.
- Seeing all the famous sites. You see pictures of all these places, but nothing compares to actually seeing it in person. One day I'm hanging out in Ireland, the next I'm seeing world famous tourist attractions. I loved every one.
- FlorenceParliament in Budapest
- Going up to the cupola of the Duomo in Florence. We waited in line for an hour, not realizing how cool it really was. First, we see the inside. Huge paintings of biblical stories as you walk around the balcony. Then, you walk up stairs and stairs to the top; spiral stairs, short stairs, big stairs, stairs that basically go straight up, and finally a ladder. Once you get to the top, you forget about all of them. A view of the entire city, from the center of the city. Buildings with the same red oofs, the market, the river, churches, and people. I wanted to take pictures and stand up there for the entire day. We eventually left but later on climbed more stairs to a Piazza that overlooked the city again. I will never get tired of those views.
- The gorgeous sun, clear blue water, fresh squeezed lemonade, and iced coffees aka Capri. The journey to Capri had some glitches but eventually we got there. Our train from Rome either hit a person and someone died or just the train broke down, things got a little confusing with the translations. All the Americans, however, grouped together and we eventually made it to Naples, then a ferry to Capri. I drank freshly squeezed lemonade with vodka at a little bar on the water with the sun shining. We took naps on the rocky beaches working on our BTs. We took a boat ride around the island, touring the rocky shoreline, huge houses, and the clearest blue water I have ever seen.
8. Prague has Pilsner beer. We enjoyed our fair share of Czech beer the nights we were there. I must admit, I still was craving a Guinness the whole night, but it was pretty good. We went out to The Pub, where you sit in booths with taps so you pour your own beer. All the tables race against each other, with a big screen showing the standings. We never even came close to the top, unfortunately. I was, however, really good at pouring the beer. Some might even say a career in bartending could be in my future. Right now that sounds like a pretty tempting career path.
- Markets. Each place we went had huge food markets full of vegetables, meat, cheeses, and breads. I wanted to buy everything I saw to make amazing dishes, but with no kitchen I unfortunately couldn’t. I made up for it in the markets that sold everything non-food. Italian leather, scarves, dishes, postcards, lace, dolls, everything you could ever want. These leave American farmers markets in the dust. Nothing can compare to the hugeness of these markets, filled with tourists browsing, and people who actually live there buying their food for the day.
- Goulash from the market in Budapest
- Eating standing up and outside for every meal in Prague. Apparently the restaurants are overpriced and not that good, so seeing we were on a budget, we ate at the markets in the big squares. Who needs to sit down to have a nice meal? Two out of our three meals a day consisted of some sort of meat in a bun, potato soup, and dessert. For breakfast we ate pastries from the bakery next to our hostel. So good.
- Eating sausages and drinking beer in Prague
- Caving. We took a bus out to some type of National Park in Budapest, on the Buda side, to crawl through caves. We had to dress in full body suits and hardhats with lights on top, and suddenly my 3euro Keds shoes didn’t quite seem adequate. None of us knew what we were getting into. Our group of nine and a guide headed into the side of the mountain and climbed down a huge ladder, like the biggest ladder I’ve ever seen, straight down, and that was the easy part. With the three of us girls leading the pack, we climbed through holes the size our heads practically, on our stomachs. Wiggling through The Worm, doing the Superman move so our bodies fit through the opening. We would come to a big open room, where it seemed there would be no way out, but our guide would inevitably find a tiny tiny whole we would have to fit though. It was probably the coolest thing I have done in a long time, although I was sore beyond belief the next day.
- People knowing English and wanting to help us. We must have looked pretty confused and lost at times. Four Americans with huge backpacks just staring at the train ticket machine or Metro map wondering how we are going to figure this out. Fortunately, there are nice people in Italy, Czech Republic, and Hungary that know English. So thanks to the man in Prague that told us how to get to our hostel at midnight in the rain, the main in the train station who told us how to get to the airport, the woman on the train in Italy who helped us when the train stopped running, and the hotel receptionists who helped us find places to stay when we were homeless in Italy. It makes me want to learn a second language.
While the trip was amazing, everything must have a few negatives.
- Cobblestones. They look pretty, its cool they’ve been there so long, but they hurt my feet. It seems every European loves cobblestone streets. Walking for miles on cobblestones day after day leaves my whole body a little bit more sore than usual. I’m recovering though; don’t worry.
- I only know one language. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out signs, menus, or directions. Most people in other countries know English so it was never too big a deal but that was the problem. Everyone knows English, so they know what you’re talking about. They, however, know a language we can’t understand at all. Every time people would start talking I automatically thought they saying top-secret things, something really interesting, or talking about us. Probably talking about us. I didn’t like it.
- Having smelly clothes. A small backpack for two weeks full of clothes you’ve worn twice is not fun. That problem has been easily fixed though. I’m staring at clean clothes drying in the Irish sun smelling good.
My first exam is on Monday so studying starts now I guess. My Niland House friends start leaving in a month. I will be back in Milwaukee in two months from yesterday. More Ireland traveling is in the works and I’m trying to fit in as much Guinness as I can.