Words can’t even describe my love for this country. The people, the food, the scenery, and the pubs are enough to make you want to visit Dublin! Our first stop, nevertheless, was the Guinness Brewery. Since Dublin is famous for brewing this cherished beer, we thought we’d give it a look! The tour was well done, but the gravity bar on the 7th floor was worth it all! It had an entire 360 view of Dublin. Incredible! The Cliffs of Moher, the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, was on the western part of the country. We took a bus ride along the country side, visiting castles before making it to the cliffs. They were absolutely breathtaking! Once back, we ventured to the Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub. They’re known for their fried Brie cheese. Oh. My. Gosh. Paired with cranberry sauce, it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted! I can only hope that my mom can figure out a way to whip this up in the kitchen. I’m already dreaming of the day that I can venture back to Ireland!
After a cold and gloomy two weeks in London, it was time to hop down south to sunny Barcelona! The people, culture, sights, and of course the Mediterranean Sea were absolutely breathtaking. Day one started off as any normal day in Europe would…with a pastry! The bakeries were filled with the most delicious sweets I’ve ever tasted…and that’s coming from someone that eats healthy 24/7. You can never go wrong with a deep fried sugar donut filled with a sweet cream (craving one as I write this). Once we were on our way, we did a 2.5 hour long walking tour of the historical sights of Barcelona. This may sound boring to most, but it was amazing to see places that Christopher Columbus walked, Spanish ruins, and old palaces. We ended the tour by hopping on a bus into the mountains to discover Parc Guell. The parc over looks all of Barcelona and the sea. It was created by an artist using colorful mosaic tiles and remains from the earth. It was one of the brightest places I have ever visited. The day ended with an Italian dinner on the Barcelona Marina overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Day 2, once again, started off with a pastry. You can never have too many pastries in your life. We hopped on the Metro and headed straight to the beach. After enduring the St. Louis and London cold, it was about time we saw a beach. Barcelona is home to some of the liveliest beaches! Even in January there were people paddle boarding, laying out, roller blading, playing music, and munching on tapas. We grabbed a quick traditional Spanish lunch called Paella consisting of rice, chicken, short ribs, peppers, and sweet peas all in a savory sauce. It was amazing! Once we devoured our dish, we continued our adventure to the Sagrada Familia. It’s the most insane-looking church I’ve ever seen! It’s both beautiful and bizarre. It’s 4 points can be see miles away from the city.
We ended our Barcelona trip in the most Spanish way possible…with a Tapas Tour! We ventured through 3 popular restaurants and got to sample their traditional tapas and drinks. My personal favorite was the patatas bravas. It was slow cooked potatoes with a creamy garlic sauce and chili powder. AMAZING (currently drooling). All in all, Barceonla treated us very well. Between the sights, the people, and the food, I am already dreaming of the day that I go back!
Like typical tourists, we casually got lost on the Tube, explored every nook and cranny of Notting Hill (our new home), and braved the city of London. We traveled across the Thames River to see sights like The Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace (Will and Kate were very accommodating), and Westminster Abbey. It’s just like the movies. We were surprised to find out that the famous London Bridge that we imaged was actually the Tower Bridge. London Bridge looked like a small version of the Poplar Street Bridge in STL (super exciting). Needless to say, I am in love with this city!
It’s officially T-10 days till the big departure date! The nerves are starting to set in, but I couldn’t be more excited for this new chapter of my life. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to see the world and will definitely take advantage of every opportunity. Between the surroundings, new friends, and the experience I’m ready to take on the best semester of my life. London, here I come!
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” -Azar Nafisi