Semana Santa, Holy week, was our spring break. We had eleven days to travel and I used every single one. I went to Paris, Florence, Pisa, Venice and Rome with three other girls from my program. It was so much fun! I got to go to the cities I have been waiting to go to ever since I signed up to study abroad.
First, we went to Paris. We only had about a day and a half to see things, but we got everything in. The first night we were there we saw the Eiffel Tower glitter so we went off to find it. Forty-five minutes later we were just lost and nowhere near it, so we gave up and made our way back to our hotel. The next day we tried to go into the Louvre, but they wouldn't take our student i.ds, so we left. Next we hit up Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées, and the Eiffel Tower. It was very cool to see all of those things. It was a very long day, but totally worth it. The next day it was free for everybody to get into the Louvre, so we fought the crowds to get in. We saw the Mona Lisa, the statue of Venus and Ramsey. We had a flight that afternoon, so we didn't get to spend too much time there.
That afternoon we flew into Florence. We had some issues with our bags in the Paris airport and we all ended up wearing half of our clothes through security, but we didn't get charged so it was ok. Our first full day in the city, we took a train to Pisa. There wasn't much to see in that city. The only thing was the tower, so we saw that and then left. One of the girls in our group was sick from a parasite from Morocco, so we got her to a doctor. In Florence we stayed in the world's sketchiest hostel, we woke up one morning to no water and they would take our beds away during the day. We tried to stay away from it as much as we could. While in the city, we saw the David. I didn't think it would be that cool to see, but it's pretty cool. We stayed in the museum for about an hour. We also ate a lot of pasta, went to the Piazza Michelangelo and into the Duomo, which is a huge church in the city.
After Florence we went to Venice. That city is so different from anything I have seen before. I was expecting the water to smell, but it wasn't too bad. We didn't go into any museums or anything because everything outside was so cool. The city is sinking and the water is rising. I'm hoping it sinks in my lifetime so I can say I was in the long lost city of Venice. There are steps that go down into the water. One girl in our group went down some steps to take a picture, and she slipped and fell into the canal. Luckily, none of her stuff got damaged and we were able to laugh about it. We're still laughing about it. We even had a hotel in the city, so she only had to walk across a few plazas to get back. That was easily the highlight of that city.
From Venice we took a train to Rome. The train was very cool, because it was like the trains in Harry Potter. When we got to Rome we were starving, but a lot of the restaurants weren't open yet, but we found Hard Rock Café, so we ate American food. It was delicious and we started lists of the foods we want we get back to America. I can't believe we only have about twenty days left! Anyway, in Rome we went on a walk our first night and we saw the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Everything was super pretty at night. I couldn't believe I was in Rome for Easter weekend! The next day we went to get our tickets for Easter mass. Then we were on our way to the Vatican museum, we had a reservation at 11:30 and at 10:30 we realized we forgot the tickets in our hotel. First of all, Rome is a very hard city to navigate. The public transportation is super confusing and they don't have any good tourist maps, so we were struggling. We ended up sprinting across the city in the rain back to our hotel and then back to the Vatican. We were only about two minutes late, which I thought was pretty impressive. The museum was huge, we couldn't stop to look at stuff because there were so many people, and it still took about an hour and a half to walk through. The Sistine Chapel was amazing! We couldn't go into the Basilica because they were getting ready for the Easter Vigil. We spent the rest of the day at the big sites. We saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the inside of the Pantheon. It was cold and rainy, so we got our pictures and left.
The next day was Easter Sunday. We left our hotel at 6 for a 10:15 mass. There were four lines, and we were close to the front of one of them. When they opened the gates, just like for Iowa State football games, we sprinted across the plaza to get our seats. We got seats in the eighth row, so we could see everything. It was totally worth it. The mass was really cool. After mass the pope gave a blessing for a bunch of countries. He did it in each country's language, which was very impressive. The Filipinos went crazy when he blessed them. It was so cool! We got out of the Vatican around two in the afternoon and we went to Trestevere, which is popular tourist neighborhood. It felt like we were in another city. We climbed a hill to overlook the city, but we saw storm clouds moving in, so we booked it down and found a bar to take cover in. We had to get up at three am to get our flight back to Spain, so we had a pretty chill night.
We made it home with out any problems. This was such a good experience! I am so glad I did it! I am kinda glad I don't have to go back to Rome over Easter again, that was definitely a one-time thing. Now I have about twenty more days in Spain before heading back to America. Coming to Spain for the semester has definitely been the best decision I have ever made.