Posts Tagged With: vacation

Swimming in the channel!

Abbie and I on the beach

The English Channel is cold. Very cold. But you can’t spend six months living so close to the coast of the English channel and not go swimming in it. So yesterday was a gorgeous day and some of my housemates and I decided we would go to the Brighton Beach and just spend the day there. Take a break from all of our revision and just relax. The sun was shining and it was “warm” for English standards. A scorching 75 degrees fahrenheit. It honestly felt really hot. Not quite sure how I’m going to survive once I return to the humid and hot temperatures of the US. But anyways, we went to the beach. And it was so crowded! There were more people at the beach then I think I’ve seen on any of the other beaches I’ve been to in my life. Not that I go to that many beaches, I’m not really the beach vacation type of person.

So we justĀ laidĀ around for awhile and then finally we decided we might as well walk towards the waters edge more. Our feet hit the water and boy was it cold. So we just sort of stood there and let the waves crash over onto our feet making sure that we didn’t get too close. Although at this point my swimming withdrawal kicked in because it has been awhile since I’ve really been in water. Needless to say, I decided to brave the cold temperatures and head in. Probably some of the coldest water I’ve been in in my life that I can remember but I’m so glad I went in because now I can truly say I swam in the English channel. Although it did make me wonder how people survive swimming all the way to France from England because I think I would die of hypothermia!

Although I did notice that unlike most other beaches I’ve been at, the people here were there solely for soaking up some rays, because there were only a handful of people actually in the water. There were a few kayaks out and sailing boats but not that many people actually swimming. Friday was the most crowded I had ever seen Brighton and it turns out that lots of people just take the train down from London on absolutely gorgeous days to soak up the sun and just relax, do some shopping, and eat some wonderful food. Honestly I am so happy, I am studying here. I can’t imagine a more interesting and relaxing place.

P.S. Wish you were here.

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Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Dubrovnik, Old Town

So I have gotten quite behind on this whole blogging thing, so I’m jumping past spring break to write about my recent adventure to Dubrovnik. The adventures started when Rachael, a friend from Duquesne who is studying in Ireland, arrived in Brighton on Sunday evening. Monday we spent the day in Brighton shopping, exploring, and just visiting the town. It was a nice break from going to Brighton to examine buildings and go to libraries for research for my art history class.

So on Tuesday, we went to the airport to catch a plane to Dubrovnik. After a nice long plane ride in the extra leg room row…somehow I was one of the last people to check in and they had to give me seat…so for a 3-hour flight I was actually pretty comfortable. Finally we were in Croatia and outside the EU so the stamp in my passport was actually somewhat different looking. We boarded a bus to take us into Dubrovnik. Some of the 40 minute ride was along drop off cliffs into the Adriatic Sea with gorgeous views of rocky hills/mountains and the shimmering blue of the sea. Needless to say, I felt like I was in heaven after coming from the 40-50 degree rainy English weather. 80 degrees, sun shining, I never wanted to leave Croatia.

Well I don’t really feel like putting into words everything about my trip, but I am going to put pictures from the city wall tour I went on, the trips to the Beach, and some photos of the food I ate because I don’t think I can put into words how amazing I thought Dubrovnik was. Although, not sure if the pictures do it justice, but you can decide. Although if you ever have the chance I would definitely recommend Dubrovnik as a place to visit. I loved it.

View just outside City Walls

Doors in the Hill near our Hotel

Banje Beach

Rachael and I on the city wall tour

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Travels with the Parents

Easter Holidays are coming to a close and I have returned to campus with the memories of an amazing month of traveling that was both intriguing and exciting while being exhausting all at the same time. I traveled to 9 different countries and a plethora of cities and towns. I saw some truly amazing places and met up with friends and family that I had not been able to see for awhile. It was truly an experience that I will never forget and never repeat.

Easter holiday began on Friday, March 16th after a midterm exam which was scheduled for 4pm the Friday before break, what teacher does that to students? so cruel, but I survived. My parents arrived on the morning of the 17th in Brighton and it was wonderful seeing them again and eating “real” food at wonderful restaurants all around Brighton and of course going to all the touristy places again like the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Pier.

After spending a couple days in Brighton we continued the adventure by train to London. Where we walked, and walked, and walked some more. We did take public transportation but it still felt like we did an awful lot of walking. It was really cool cause I once again got to see all the really touristy places but then I went into some of the places that I hadn’t before like the Tower of London where we got to see the Crown Jewels!

The White Tower at the Tower of London

And the memorial to all the people beheaded at the tower and the places where the prisoners were kept and such. It was quite an interesting place to see, because there was just so much history there. We also went to the British Library

where we got to see the Magna Carta, which was really interesting to see because of it’s slight influence on the future government of the United States. The final sight that we saw that I hadn’t been to before was the British Museum. The Museum was really cool with a plethora of interesting artifacts including the Rosetta Stone but at the same time it was interesting to think about how much was given willingly and how much was stuff that the British took from the places that they colonized.

After two wonderful days in London, we took a super early morning flight to Rome. Upon arriving in Rome we walked past Roman ruins and a huge Piazza to get to the Coliseum, which was so big! The first thing I noticed in Rome was how different it was from all the other European cities I had been to at that point. I could definitely see the more southern and Roman influence on the city. It had older streets with cobblestones and roads that just sort of changed directions or became very narrow. I definitely would not want to drive around in Rome especially having just come from England where they drive on the left side of the road. After the coliseum we went to the Capitoline Museum in order to see the newly released Vatican documents. It was interesting to note how many of the documents that the Vatican released didn’t seem to have anything to do with religion or Christianity but were just general significant documents. Finally we just decided to walk through Rome and see some of the sights and side streets. We walked to the Trevi fountain, which was overcrowded with tourists, and continued on towards the Pantheon, which

The Laocoon Statue

also had a lot of tourist. But the Pantheon was so large that you could still experience the impressive nature of building and the vast amount of people wasn’t nearly as much of a distraction as it was at the Trevi fountain. Then we finally found our way to Piazza Navona which had artists just set up with their paintings and drawings all around the fountains and the Piazza trying to sell their artwork. It reminded me quite a lot of the Montmartre region in Paris.

The next day we went on a tour of the Vatican. I was so glad we had a tour guide because I heard stories and learned information about the different statues and artwork that I never would have known otherwise. For instance, the Laocoon statue was of a priest of Troy who tried to warn the Trojans about the horse but the gods were on the side of Paris, so they sent sea serpents to kill Laocoon and his sons. Also the painter who painted the Pope’s rooms that were painted at the same time as Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel was heavily influenced by the Sistine Chapel, because he had only finished one room before the Chapel was revealed and his subsequent 3 rooms were clearly different and influenced by what he saw in the Sistine Chapel. After the pope’s rooms we moved on to see the Sistine Chapel, which was amazing but at the same time I thought that there were almost too many figures in the room and it was hard to focus on any portion of the artwork. Needless to say it was not my favorite spot although it was very impressive.

Finally, we made our way to St. Peter’s Basilica, which is one of the four major basilica’s in Rome.

The Canopy over the Altar in St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s is probably one of the most impressive buildings that I have ever seen in my life. The walls are as tall as the Coliseum, and the huge dome designed by Michelangelo is so impressive. Not to mention the canopy over the altar that was designed by Bernini. After leaving the Vatican, we headed towards the Borghese and the Spanish steps. The next day we went out to the Appian Way, which is the oldest highway that heads straight out of Rome. There are lots of Catacombs where Christians were buried in the early times when Romans were against Christianity so they could not be buried in the city.

Appian Way

The road itself was quite impressive because the stones that made up the road were enormous. I cannot even begin to imagine how long it took to construct the Appian Way and make it a functional road. And to think that I was walking where Romans used to walk, it was quite strange.

So the following day was quite interesting. We took a train out to Fara Sabina where we were supposed to be picked up to go on an olive oil countryside tour, however the person never showed up to get us, so we waited awhile to catch the next train back into Rome. On our way to Rome my dad and I were looking at the map and decided to get off a couple train stops before our intended destination and catch the metro to go see Santa Maria Basilica, which is one of the 4 major basilicas in the world as well. It was a very impressive church but not nearly as amazing as St. Peter’s. I began to get bored of looking at the church though and decided to wait outside for my parents, so I walked outside. And as I went outside what looked like a tour group walked up so I sort of stepped to the side but then I actually looked at the group and realized I saw one of my friends that was studying in Rome and then I recognized another person. So finally I called out my friend’s name and he just sort of looked at me like is that really Michelle? It was so weird, but we talked to to each other for a little but he had to continue on with his class. That was one of the most amazing parts of the trip though because I wasn’t even supposed to be in Rome I was supposed to be exploring the olive oils in the countryside but in a city of millions of people I happened upon one of my University friends from back home.

The next day I left Rome and my parents to head on towards the rest of my travels, but I will save those for another post soon to come.

P.S. Wish you were here.

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