Eiffel my life with fun

I HATE the feeling of not being able to communicate. Or pulling the “American card”. Which I have done these past 3 days… I’m trying my best to pick up phrases, but I’m so visual that everything Amber teaches me goes in one ear and out the other. Oh well.

So I left Barcelona early Friday morning. Completely devastated, no doubt. The taxi picked me up at 5am, and I had no phone (aka no alarm) at the time, so I had to stay up all night (which wasn’t a big deal since I hung out with my friends till 3am, crying about leaving). God truly saved me from missing my flight, though, at the airport. I sat down, had 30 minutes till I boarded, suddenly woke up in a panic half and hour later. I ran to the line in a COMPLETE daze, basically half-asleep, which meant OF COURSE that the Spanish dude in front of me had to start flirting/talking to me. I try my best to respond without looking like a moron, which was inevitable since I was a zombie, though. Once I got on the plane I just passed out for the next 2 hours.

After landing and getting my luggage, and then riding on a bus for and hour to get to Amber, we finally meet up!! Epic reunion. The rest of the day, I am toast. Like, dysfunctional from the amount of sleep I got. I guess I changed my A&M email password, and now need to go to the main office when I return to get it changed again (since I have absolutely NO CLUE what it is…)

Saturday: After eventually getting a full night’s rest, Shelby, Kate and I went to the catacombs. For those of you who don’t know, there are about 6 million people buried under Paris in these tunnels. It was sufficiently creepy for a normal person, but for some reason (perhaps because I’m emotionally cut-off), I was totally fine with it. I felt like I was in a haunted house… “kids these days. So desensitized by movies and television…”


Afterwards we met Amber up (HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY) at the Eiffel Tower, with the full intention of having a wine/cracker and cheese picnic under it, but it had rained so we moved it to our lame apartment. Stupid weather.

Today we went to Versailles. BEAUTIFUL. If you know me, (which you do, because you’re only reading this if you’re close to me), I LOVE significant historical monuments. Versailles was amazing because it made me feel like I was THERE. Like somehow, Louis the 16th had literally just walked through his bedroom/hall of mirrors right before I did. And the artwork and architecture was gorgeous. The gardens were my favorite part though. I could definitely walk through those every day and never get bored. It’s just so prestigious and grand.


Well tomorrow (Monday), we’re going to the Louvre and the Christmas markets. Stoked.

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Leap Year

Moral of the weekend: be careful what (movie plot) you wish for (to follow your life).

Ever since seeing Leap Year, I’ve had this weird obsession with going to Ireland and somehow experiencing everything that the main character, Anna, did. Well, I basically got my wish this weekend. The good, the bad, and the demented high schooler who hit on me.

If you haven’t seen the movie, Anna’s boyfriend hasn’t proposed to her yet, so she decides to go meet him in Dublin to propose to him on Feb. 29th (it’s an Irish tradition for the woman to propose to the man on Leap day). So basically because I have run out of ideas on how to keep you interested,  I will be mirroring Anna’s experience with ours.

St. Patrick's Church

 

Amber and I both flew into Dublin, but my flight arrived 4 hours earlier than hers, so I decided to tour Dublin before meeting up with her. It has been a running joke with my friends that I will marry an Irish man. My first 5 minutes in Dublin, walking down a street, I joking “ask” (in my head) all the Irish men out there, “so who is lucky enough to put a ring on this finger?” Literally 30 seconds after I proposed this question, I watch as this chubby highschooler walks by, full on giving me the up-down. As soon as we make eye contact (my faced in a twisted, repulsed manner), he smiles and says “eey booful”. {Finding an Irish man like Anna? Check.}

Next I link up with Amber, and we take our 3 hour bus ride to Limerick, which felt like 20 minutes because we had so much catching up to do. In Limerick, we checked into our adorable bed and breakfast {like in Leap Year…}, then headed out the a restaurant to grab a bite. The whole time, this table of Irish women beside us were hysterical, cracking up and obviously having a grand ol time together. {Traditional with meal boisterous natives like Anna, check.}

The next day, we sleep in and eat a beautiful, heavy Irish breakfast downstairs. When we finally arrive at the bus station, ready to head to the Cliffs of Moher, which was basically THE REASON WHY we went to Ireland, we found out that it was off season and the only bus left 2 hours earlier… {important dreams crushed by transportation issues like Anna, check}
So we decided to go to this cute little town called Adare.

As I cracked jokes about “adaring” to go to Adare, we got to see a gorgeous green country with sheep galore from our bus window. We went to a pub where wedding guests were all hanging out. {like when Anna crashed that Irish wedding…} and eventually made our way to where we THOUGHT was the bus stop. Suddenly, our bus rushes by us, and we sprint down the street in hopes to catch it. After a block, I look back at a defeated Amber walking… and look back to see the bus pull out of the bus stop. Obviously, we decided to eat in Adare that night. We ate at a restaurant where once Bill Clinton had eaten.

Around 6:33pm, Amber asks me what time it is, and we realize that we only have 7 minutes to get to the bus stop. Right when we jump up, we see a bus pass by our window.
Amber: “Omg, that’s our bus.”
Audrey: “Nope, no no, that’s not our bus. It’s not. It can’t be.”
*Awkward silence where we both fully understand that it was our bus*
Which mean that it was time to sit back down and order dessert.
{Missing the “train”(bus) just like Anna…}

FINALLY we make it back, and end up watching “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here: Australia” for the rest of the night. It was actually very entertaining. The Irish are much more hilarious than we are.

The next day we had yet another wonderful breakfast, and some young guy from the kitchen dropped a bunch of plates.

 

 

 

 

 

 
We checked out and walked to King John’s Castle. {…just like Anna and Declan saw a castle…}

aaand Amber slipped and fell in this slimy mud/algae crud. {Anna? Yes?  Slipping and falling down that muddy hill?}

Finally, we headed to the bus where we started our adventures home. 3 hours to the airport and then waiting in the terminal together, eating Burger King. Yes, Burger King.

Tomorrow I see Amber once again, this time in Venice. And I will be spending the next 9 days in Venice, Florence, and Rome with various friends. I cannot believe this is real life.

Letter

Dear Service Workers of Barcelona,

Please, just speak to me in Spanish. I assure you that I will be able to understand you. At least, it’ll better than trying to decipher your “English”. I just don’t understand how, when I respond to you in (almost) perfect Spanish, you still assume I’m an ignorant tourist. Thank you.

Audrey

2 days in London=2x at Chipotle

Don’t judge me. Don’t you dare judge me.

In the words of Sweeney Todd, there is no place like London. Even the air is prestigious. There was something so enchanting about seeing all of these famous landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. And, I will be the first to admit that the British accent can send me fluttering.

I also found an odd comfort in seeing houses again. And of course, having everything be in your native tongue was freeing. I got in kind of late Friday night, so I mainly just walked around the area where my friends live. Saturday though, Genevieve, Hannah and I hit it hard. We basically saw everything you “should see” in London. First off, we met up in Hyde Park:
and continued onto Trafalgar Square, where the National Gallery is:
and, of course, Aslan himself:

Then Buckingham Palace:

Buckingham Palace

I snuck a picture of St. Paul’s Cathedral (where, like, omg, Prince William and Kate were like, MARRIED)

St. Paul's Cathedral

 

St. Paul's Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and there was an “Occupy London” protest going on outside of it.

We then walked around the Thames River and got to see Tower Bridge (which consequently is mistaken for “London Bridge” a lot… London Bridge is really lame.)

Tower Bridge

We then ate a traditional British meal at a cute little pub:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yum. Then we finally finished off the “London” experience by seeing Big Ben, Parliament, The London Eye, and Westminster Abbey.
 

Westminster Abbey

I honestly just don’t feel like writing more. Sorry. I’m tired.

Praga, República Checa

As I’m in my room, packing for London tomorrow, I’m thinking about 3 things.

1. What is the relentless bell ringing in the corridor below?
2. Of course, I would leave my shampoo and towel in Prague. Why wouldn’t I have.
3. I wonder if I could pull off a British accent this weekend.

By the way, I know you all have been dying to hear about that photo contest in Girona… and well… we won!! Neda, Julia, and I get to pick a local show (under 10 euros) to go to! Points for creativity.

So Prague. Prague. I mean, PRAGUE. I cannot explain how much I adored Prague. I still have London, Ireland, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Paris to get to, and I am absolutely convinced that they won’t match up to Prague. The city is simply enchanting. It is ridden with stunning architecture that dates back to 1100 AD. If given the opportunity, I would jump at going back.

On Friday, Whitney and I went to Old Towns Square, which was by far my favorite area.

Astrological Clock
Týn Church in Old Town Square

It happened to be St. Martin’s Day as well, so Old Town Square was filled with a market. We ate delicious crepes and drank traditional Czech honey wine. It could not have been a more perfect atmosphere.
For lunch we crossed the Charles Bridge seen here:

Charles Bridge

And ate goulash and potato pancakes at a cozy little restaurant. We attempted to go out with Whitney’s friends that night, but both were feeling a little sick, so we decided to stay in.

The next morning, we went to the Jewish quarters, only to realize that many areas, such as the Jewish cemetery, were closed down because of the Sabbath. We still got to see some extremely old synagogues, and I ended up buying a painting of Old Town Square…. which inevitably is where we found ourselves once again, soaking in the charm of the market. We ate a traditional St. Martin’s meal, which is a pancake potato with beets and goose! And then sipped on Gluehwein while strolling the plaza.

Old Town Square
St. Martin's meal

After lunch, we headed across Charles Bridge again to go visit Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, which is in the castle.

St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral
Overlooking Prague from Prague Castle

For dinner, we went to a beer brewery where you can eat and drink freshly brewed beer. We split beer cheese and bread and Wiener Schnitzel, and ended up sharing our table with some Brits. It was pretty neat getting to talk to them.
Whitney and I headed to see Charles Bridge at night, since supposedly it looks beautiful when it’s lit up.

Charles Bridge with Prague Castle

Here are some other lovely shots of Prague:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, I absolutely adored Prague. I truly hope that I can make it back some day.

Gooollly, Dali! You’re a strange one.

Just 3 short days after coming back from Morocco/Sevilla, ISA took a few of us on a trip to Girona and Figueres!

We had a photo contest in Girona, which has a pretty extensive “old city”, but unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t get to find all of the hotspots. We were supposed to be as creative as we could. This is what we came up with:

The stone witch on the cathedral
The Arab Baths
Kissing the Lion of Girona’s butt (it’s tradition)
River of Girona with colorful buildings

I know you’re probably getting sick of seeing cathedral pics at this point, but this one was actually pretty cool since there were a massive amount of steps that lead up to it. We were already half way, so this doesn’t really show it well:
Other creative pictures (or so I thought…)

We took as many pics as we thought possible, then went to a quaint coffee shop overlooking the river and enjoyed expresso, quiche, and some divine “hot chocolate” that was basically just melted chocolate.

 Afterwards, we went to Figueres where the Dali museum resides. It was definitely a nice change from all of the classical art I had been seeing. Dali’s modern art ranged from paintings of 18th century women holding their elastic noses to strange sculptures of deformed beings. My favorite though was probably the blonde muse. He made a face large objects, and you can only get the full view by climbing up some stairs:
 I just found it so interesting, because you couldn’t really capture the whole face without the right perspective. Some may not even understand that it was art from the side view:
Loved that day. Friday, I leave for Prague.

Star Wars in Spain

Since Morocco took up so much of our time in that last blog, I didn’t get to give my synopsis on Sevilla. After Morocco, Brittany and I spent a day there before heading back to Barna (nickname the locals have for Barcelona).  Sevilla is a charming city in the south of Spain that is full of gorgeous buildings. It has a “small town feel” to it (at least compared to Barna). Honestly, it’s almost like a fairytale, with elegant architecture and various horse driven carriages all throughout the city. This was part of the cathedral:

Cathedral in Sevilla

The most magnificent part of the city is Plaza Espana.

Plaza España
Plaza España

It is a plaza that is in the shape of a semi-circle with a fountain in the center and a “moat”ish river that runs on the inside of it. All along the walls are colorful murals of the different cities in Spain. Cool fact: The Attach of the Clones Star Wars movie has a scene in this plaza, except they digitally enhanced the plaza as a full circle.

Plaza España

Sevilla has a river running through the middle of it, which is pretty cool:
And this was our Hostel. It was really cute on the inside. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who goes to Sevilla.

Camels smell like rotten eggs

How to even attempt to explain this week. It was an experience unlike anything I have ever had. I had no expectations going into it, and was astonished with every moment.

This was an ISA extra trip that we had to sign up and pay for separately. So because of that, we had to meet up in Sevilla (city in the south of Spain, couple hours north of the Strait of Gibraltar) and wait around till 4am to meet up with the entire group. So Brittany and I got to Sevilla around 11:30pm, took a bus into town, and walked around for an hour and a half till finding our friends. We ate a restaurant with cool 20s pictures, and I had the most amazing pizza. Then, we spent 2 hours on the river bank that runs through Sevilla. At one point, a fish splashed loudly and I snapped a sweet shot of everyone’s reaction. Totally not posed:

River Guadalquivir
River Guadalquivir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All day Wednesday, we travelled. Bus to Strait of Gibraltar, ferry across, and bus to Fes, Morocco. The first half of the day was pure torture. At 6:30am, only an half and a half after everyone fell asleep, the directors made everyone get off the bus and go to the bathroom. An hour later of sleep, we had to get off and onto the ferry. 2 hours later, off the ferry onto the bus. Everyone was basically a zombie. But finally, we arrived in Fes! Fes is known to be a very “holy” city, with a heavy Islamic influence, as with the rest of Morocco. We stayed in a beautiful hotel (Menzeh Zalagh):

Hotel Menzeh Zalagh

That night, we went out for cafe con leche and to buy water. The traffic there is insane, and some random guy helped us get across the street:

Streets of Fes

Thursday we spent the entire day in “Medina of Fes”, which is the massive intricate market in Fes. The area consists of small, winding streets. You occasionally have to lean against the wall to allow the donkeys pass, always watching your step to avoid uneven ground or donkey dung. Unfortunately, it was raining which caused the streets to be slightly flooded, and my TOMS were soaked with who knows what kind of infested water. As you walk through, you get to see the occasional camel head or smell an overwhelming stench of spoiled seafood. The Medina was anything but glamorous, yet I definitely was taking in the experience and enjoying it:

Medina of Fes
Medina of Fes
Medina of Fes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to leather, herbal, clothing, and medal shops. I ended up buying a shirt and scarf for myself. In the leather shop, the stench was so overwhelming that they gave us all mint leaves. It was quite a scene, watching these men soaking leather tubs outside:

Herbal shop in Medina of Fes
Herbal shop in Medina of Fes
Cloth shop in Medina of Fes
Rug shop in Medina of Fes
Leather factory in Medina of Fes
Medal shop in Medina of Fes

We ate a traditional Moroccan lunch in the Medina, and went to a pottery factory and a spot overlooking Fes on our way home:

Lunch in Medina of Fes
Fes, Morocco

Friday was a bus day as well, but much more pleasant since the scenery was gorgeous. Morocco’s landscape is extremely diverse, going from mountains covered with green scrubs with blanketed with fog to barren land and rocky dry mountains:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around 3pm, we stopped for lunch at the “Ziz Oasis”:

Ziz Oasis

By the time we got near the Sahara, it was dark. We rode in 4-wheelers out into the Sahara desert, which took nearly and hour and a half. The camp was full of tents, and a lot of “Berbers” (native Moroccans) were waiting for us with yummy tea and nuts:

Tea in the Sahara (served by Aladdin)

I woke up the next morning in a complete haze at 5:30am. Stumbling out of bed, I headed in the direction where everyone else seemed to be going. A random Berber grabbed my arm and told me to come in broken Spanish. I was hesitant at first, as I was still half-asleep walking through an open, barren land with a strange man. But I continued to follow him for 15 minutes dune after dune, exhausted from climbing and wishing he would stop at each peak. Finally we plopped down on the top of one of the dunes, just in time to see the sun rise. I cannot describe how impressive it was. We hung out for a while, talked about his family, and eventually headed back to camp:
 After breakfast, it was CAMEL TIME! “Magnificent” isn’t exactly the word I would use to describe them. They are very funny/awkward looking creatures. They were sitting down, so it was a shock whenever I got on and it stood up. I didn’t realize how massive it was. After an hour ride through the desert, we came to a native town. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures on the camel, since my camera was dead, but my friend did get a picture of me WITH a camel… which I will put on here soon.

We walked around the town for a while before heading back to camp in jeeps where we spent the rest of the day on a hike through the desert:

Sahara Desert

That night, Kathy, Grace and I laid on the sand, looking up at the brilliant sky full of stars. Unfortunately, we were so exhausted that we fell asleep after 10 minutes, but not without seeing at least 5 shooting stars.

It was a long journey back the 2 days. The first night, we stopped off in Meknes and hung out on a rooftop looking over the city. The second night, we finally got back to Sevilla where Ana, Kathy, Grace, Brittany, and I ate pizza/pasta at the same restaurant as before. It was probably one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had in a long time. After dinner, Grace, Brittany and I went to our hostel, Triana Backpackers, and passed out.

To see Morocco was a different, exciting experience is an understatement. I have been to 3rd world countries (Mexico+Costa Rica), but this was entirely different and cannot be compared. It was almost overwhelming, being hit with such a different culture, but definitely worth it. From the Medina of Fes, to the Sahara, to Meknes, I was constantly amazed with new sights and scenes.

I’m not crying, it has just been raining… on my face

This morning, Amber went back to that blasted city. The only thing that consoled me was knowing that we’d be in Ireland together in 5 weeks.

At least we went out with a bang. We went to Montserrat, which is a mountainous region that is known for its smooth rock formations. We saw a cross jutting out from one of the formations in the distance, seen here:

Impossible cross

We set off to find this cross… a lady told us it was a 15 minute walk up the path. An hour later, we find ourselves here:

We found this offbeat trail, and ended up sitting and eating lunch on one of the jutting rock formations. It was a breathtaking scene.
After we made the hike back down, we realized which path we should have taken to get the the cross, then I had a quick temper tantrum before we consoled each other that the above destination was much more exciting than the cross. Then we checked out the monastery:

Monastery

And I climbed this. I was hoping to get to the top, but these British kids kinda freaked me out. Like, 30 of them came running towards us yelling “OOH my gaaawd!! What is she doooing?”. We overheard one kid say to his friend “I’d do that for a flying bat!”
Finally, we took a couple pictures for a model portfolios…
 And this is just a sneak peek… get excited.

Last night we went out and ate typical tapas, then spent a couples hours on a park bench soaking in as much time as we could before our inevitable parting.

Tapas y Sangria

But you know what? 5 weeks, we’ll be in Limerick, Ireland. 6 weeks, Venice. And 8, PARIS for Christmas 🙂 It is a good year.

Tomorrow I leave for Morocco for 6 days. I will have a massive update when I return.

These are a few of my faavorite things:

1.) Amber
2.) Barcelona
3.) Cheese and wine on the Mediterranean beach at night

So far, this weekend has been epic. And we still have tomorrow.

Amber came in Friday around 4, and once she got settled in, we went to the gothic district to see the “cuidad antigua” (or old city). Before going to a flamenco show, we stopped off in a typical European cafe to sip on cafe con leche and eat pastries:

Catedral de Barcelona
Cafe con leche y dulce

The flamenco was stunning. We were enthralled the entire time, only to be distracted by the feet dangling from the second level:

Flamenco Dancer

This morning, we went to two different parks. The first, which is known as the “Laberint d’Horta” (Labyrinth). It was a good one, because we got lost… for at least 10 minutes. I mean look, it was pretty insane:

Labyrinth in Barcelona

The screaming children we heard beating us out didn’t exactly boost our self-confidence either… but pushing them in the mud did… 😉

The 2nd park we went to was the most infamous “Parque Guell”:

Parque Guell

AND, of course, La Sagrada Familia, where we ate our lunch in a park next to it:

La Sagrada Familia

After gaining our strength again, we finished off a lovely afternoon at Montjuic, by seeing “the Palace” and the Olympic stadium!

Palacio
1992 Olympic Monument 

And finally, to finish off the night, Amber and I spent 2 hours on the beach, drinking wine, eating cheese and crackers and chocolate, and reminiscing on the depth of our friendship. Haters gonna hate.

Mediterranean Sea

Excited for a whole day tomorrow at Montserrat!!