Rome- Day 3

On our last day in Rome, we slept in and headed to the National Museum of Rome.  I wish I would have known more about Roman history to truly appreciate this museum, but the fact that some of the statues were almost perfectly preserved from over 2000 years ago was pretty amazing.

Then we went and got lunch- Ravioli. Yum!  We wandered around and windowshopped until the Capucin Crypt opened.  The Capucin crypt was ridiculous.  Someone literally took the bones of 4000 dead monks and built stuff out of them.  We couldn’t take pictures, but I found this one online.

If you can’t tell, that’s all bones.  Everything was made out of bones.  Even the chandeliers. 

Then we went to find Santa Maria in Testavere church.  It was time for mass, so we stayed for mass and then wandered the church.  The ceiling was my favorite part. 

We ate dinner, ran back to our hostel to grab our bags, and headed to the airport.  We went to try to catch the airport shuttle, but we couldn’t find it.  We ended up taking a taxi.  We got to the airport around midnight, only to find out it is closed from midnight till 4:30 am.  I don’t know why an airport would close, but whatever.  We hung out all night at the airport because our flight was supposed to leave at 6am.  We got checked in, met up with our friends because we were flying back together, only to find out our flight was delayed till 12:50.  I had two presentations on Monday and was not ready for either of them because I was planning on working on them once I got home.  They ended up going well, but I was stressed out about getting them done.  We finally made it back to Alcala, and I’d never been so happy to be back!

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Rome- Day 2

On our second day in Rome, we got up early, took showers and were off to meet our friends at Castel St. Angelo.  We got there about 45 minutes later than we planned on… oops.  Luckilly, our friends were running late too.  The castle was alright, but it had a great view of St. Peter’s.

Oh, and it was gross and rainy all day. 😦

Regardless, it was time for the Vatican!  We grabbed a little pizza snack and then headed to St. Peter’s.  When we got to St. Peter’s square, we were bombarded with people trying to get us to pay for guided tours.  The said the line would take 3 hours and then another hour after security.  Well, they were totally lying, and I’m glad I didn’t waste my money on a guided tour.  We got through the line in about a half hour.  We went quickly through the crypt, and then into St. Peter’s.  It was AMAZING.  The pictures don’t do it justice at all.  It was GIGANTIC and BEAUTIFUL.  It was easily the most amazing church I’ve ever seen.  We listened to the Rick Steves’ podcast and then wandered around.

Then we headed up to the dome.  We had to wait in line for what felt like forever.  Then we finally made it.

Then we headed to eat lunch.  We were both STARVING.  I had a spicy penne dish… it was the best pasta I’ve ever had.  Then we headed to the vatican museum and the sistine chapel.  We kind of had to hurry through it, and I wish we would have had more time, but we had to make it to the sistine chapel!  It was breath taking.  We listened to Rick Steves’ podcast again and took in the amazing paintings.  Naturally, we couldn’t take pictures, but trust me, if you go to Rome, don’t miss the sistine chapel. 

Then we got more gelato and did Rick Steves’ night walk across Rome, which ended at the Trevi fountain.  I’ve been to Ceasar’s palace in Las Vegas, and I thought of it when I saw the Trevi. haha.

We grabbed bruschetta, pizza, and gelato for dinner, headed back to see the Trevi in the dark, and again, we were exhausted, so we headed back to the hostel to sleep.

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Rome- Day 1

So, I’ve been home for almost two weeks and I still haven’t finished posting about all my trips.  My friend Brittany FINALLY posted pics from Rome, so here we go!

For my last trip in Europe, we went to Rome.  This was about a week after the Icelandic volcano erupted and we weren’t sure if our flights were going to be cancelled or not.  Luckilly, they opened up the Rome airport the day before we left!  We got there late, as our flight was delayed, but the hostel picked us up and we went straight to sleep.

The next day, we got up early to go see the ancient sights of Rome!  We went to buy a Rome pass (it gives you free transportation and free admission to two sights), but we found out it was culture week, and everything except the Vatican was free!  We hopped on the metro and headed to the Coliseum.  I was really surprised to see that the Coliseum is seriously in the middle of the city.  You can see it from inside the metro!  I was completely wowed by the Coliseum.

We followed the Rick Steves’ podcast, which was pretty good.  As we were listening to the podcast, we ran into our friends who were also in town!  We made plans to meet up the following day to go to the Vatican.

Then, we headed to the Forum.  I’m REALLY glad we had the podcast for this one because it is all just ruins.  Without the podcast we wouldn’t have known what anything was.

Then we headed to our first real italian meal… delicious! We both had gnocci… yum!  Then we headed to the Pantheon.  I think the Pantheon was my favorite ancient sight because thru the years it has been renovated and it looks basically like it did when it was built.

The place is gigantic.  Seriously.

We then decided it was time to wander the streets of Rome.  We got some gelato, bought paintings and wandered around.  I bought a painting of Piazza Navona and then we went to find the piazza.  It was adorable, full of street painters and surrounded by outdoor tables! 

Then we headed to the Spanish steps.  They were full of people and had BEAUTIFUL flowers.

Then we were exhausted and starving, so we got pizza and tiramisu for dinner and headed back to the hostel to sleep.

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Ireland- Day 3

For our last full day in Ireland, we took a day trip to the Blarney Castle.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, I hadn’t heard much about it, other than it isn’t worth the trip because it’s too far away from everything else.  Alas, Brittany REALLY wanted to go, so we went. 

We got up early and went to the meeting place.  There were only seven people in our group and our tour guide was super cool.  We had a stop at a small town called Cobh (pronounced cove).  It was a cute little Irish town.  We got breakfast, including Irish coffee, which was intense, to say the least.

Then we drove forever to Blarney castle.  It was surrounded by BEAUTIFUL gardens.  Oh, did I mention it didn’t rain AT ALL while we were in Ireland?  The weather was absolutely perfect. 

We climbed to the top of the castle and kissed the Blarney stone!  I now have “the gift of the gab” which, if you know me at all, you know it’s not exactly something I needed. 

We spent the rest of our time wandering the gardens.  We stumbled upon the wishing stairs… the legend is that if you walk up and down them with your eyes closed; your wish will come true!

We hopped back on the bus and grabbed some dinner in a small town and then headed back to Dublin.  Since Ireland is famous for their bed and breakfasts, we decided to spend one night in one!  We had a little bit of trouble finding our bed and breakfast, but it was ADORABLE. 

We went back to the Temple bar area, found our Irish friends, and spent the night in a few Irish pubs until closing time.  We went back home, and slept in our super comfy beds for a few hours until breakfast time.  We had a DELICIOUS Irish breakfast (nice change from cola cao and a muffin in Spain), which included sausages, toast, eggs, beans, rashers, yum!

Then we made our way to the airport and got on our flight back to Madrid!

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Ireland- Day 2

For our second day in Ireland, we went on a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher.  I’ve heard that the cliffs are beautiful and I was super excited to see them.  We got up early, and headed to the meeting point for the tour.  We headed to Galway, because that is where the tour company is based out of and we had to pick up some more people.  We were exhausted, so we both slept most of the way to Galway.  Once we got to Galway, they switched bus drivers and we were off.  Pretty much the whole time we were headed to the cliffs, we were on tiny little windy roads where the bus driver had to pull off to the side to let people pass.  Our driver told us funny little Irish stories as we passed various run-down castles, churches, and crosses.  Occasionally he let us out to take pictures. 

Then we stopped in Doolin for lunch.  We had some delicious seafood chowder, and then we were off to the main attraction.  The cliffs were amazing.  I don’t even know how to describe them, so here’s a bunch of pictures:

We made a few more stops on the way home, more churches, crosses, and something about fairies that I don’t really understand.  We got back to Galway and had dinner.  We ate beef and Guinness casserole because it is a typical Irish food (according to our friends)… it was actually REALLY good. 🙂

We got back to Dublin and went to sleep because we were exhausted and we had to get up early again the next day.

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Ireland- Day 1

So, we were home for school for a day after Semana Santa, and then it was back to traveling.  This time to Ireland!  Ireland was the trip I had planned that I was most looking forward to.  I don’t know why, but I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to Ireland.  We got there with no problems, found our giant hostel, and went to bed because it was late. 

We woke up the next morning, ate breakfast at the hostel, and we were off to explore Dublin.  Naturally, since we were in Ireland, I wanted to see St. Patrick’s cathedral.  We made it there and paid to get in, and the people were SUPER nice.  It was a self-guided tour, but one of the workers explained the map to us and then told us if we had any questions we could ask.  It was much more like Westminster Abbey than a Spanish cathedral. 

After St. Patrick’s we went in search of the Guinness Storehouse, or as a tour guide later called it, the center of the universe.  It isn’t actually used as a brewery anymore, but it was still cool.  We learned how they make Guinness, and then saw a ton of advertising stuff.  Once we were done with our tour, we got a free pint!

We grabbed lunch at a little pub, and headed to Dublin Castle.  It is actually now a palace, because the castle was burned down, but they kept the name.  It was a much more practical palace than the royal palace in Madrid or Versailles.  It was the best and cheapest guided tour of a place I’ve ever been on. 

Then we headed to Trinity College.  We were trying to decide if we wanted to spend the money to see the book of Kells or not, but the library was already closed, so it didn’t really matter. 

Then we wandered to the Temple bar area… which was full of entertainment.  There were people dressed as leprechauns, street musicians, and tons of people.  We went back to the hostel to figure out where we needed to meet for our day trips the next two days, and then we wandered O’Connell Street, and we headed back to the Temple bar.  We ended up meeting some Irish friends who told us a whole bunch of stuff about Ireland, it was really cool. 

 At first they were really hard to understand because their accents were really thick, but once we got used to it, we were good to go.  Minus the fact that they say weird things like… 10:30 = half ten, 3 = tree, puck = punch, etc.  We stayed out till about midnight and then headed back to the hostel to sleep!

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El Pais Vasco- Day 4

When we planned our trip to el pais vasco, we were planning on spending a day on the French side of the area.  We went to try and find bus/train tickets, and they were all really expensive, so we decided to spend our last day in San Sebastian.  Naturally, we slept in because we could.  The sun was shining and the birds were chirping, so we went to the beach! 

We went to one of the beaches and watched surfers and took in the sun, and then we got the brilliant idea of going to buy cheap towels and lay out! We went to the first Chino shop we could find and bought the cheapest towels and went back to the hostel to put on our swim suits!  We grabbed some pintxos for lunch and then headed to the other beach in town.  Then we realized, it was WAY too cold to lay out in our swimsuits.  Brittany only lasted about 15 minutes and I only 30. 

We put our clothes back on and lounged around the beach.  Brittany slept, but I people watched.  There were tons of people.  Some were sleeping, some were playing soccer, others cricket, and there were tons of little kids! And for some strange reason in Spain, its completely OK to let your child run around naked on the beach.  I would NEVER do that, but whatever.

After we were done with the beach, we wandered around the other part of town we hadn’t visited yet and found a cute little park. 

We got more pintxos for dinner and then went to watch the sunset at the beach.  It was beautiful. 

The trip to San Sebastian was pretty relaxing (aside from the crazy transportation/lodging incidents), which was exactly what I needed.

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