Sunday, April 3, 2011

sprang break, study abroad style

whaddup y'all!

last week was mid-semester break, also known as spring break to all of us american type folks. i journeyed to nice, monaco, florence, and venice (and was planning on going to paris as well) for my week off with heather and holly edwards, (aka the twins for the purpose of this blog post), and it was just as groovy as you would expect!! i know, i know, you wish you were me. who wouldn't? just kidding. but seriously...

so anyways. we left stirling at the butt crack of dawn to get to glasgow-prestwick airport, which btw isn't really in glasgow at all. effin ryan air... luckily the twins had a friend with a car who took us to the airport. holla bolla. soooo we fly into paris beauvais airport, which is even less in paris than glasgow prestwick was in glasgow. when you land in paris beauvais, it takes a 2 hour bus ride to get into paris. yes, i said two hours. we were told it was either 10 minutes or 45, so the 2 hour thing was a big old shock. not to worry, we made our train to nice in the nick of time thanks to a very nice taxi driver. we then took a 6 hour train ride from paris to nice on the TGV which was pretty cool but very long. daddy was able to provide us with directions to the hostel in nice, so once we arrived it was easy peasy lemon squeezie. the hostel at first appeared extremely sketchy. we didn't realize that the lights are on a timer, so you have to hit the light switch when you walk in in the dark, so we climb stairs in a very old building in the dark to get to the second floor which is where the hostel itself was. scary potatoes. not to worry though, the hostel pastoral in nice was certainly my favorite hostel of the whole trip. it was awesome. we made friends with a girl from south africa and two canadians on our last night, so that was awesome enough, but it was also very nice, friendly and perfectly situated in nice. love times infinity, i'd recommend it to anyone going to nice. our first day in nice was awful. it poured rain and was absolutely freezing. we also didn't realize that you could take the tram for a euro (or just hop on b/c they don't check) and get anywhere in nice without having to walk forever. so we walked forever in the pouring rain and got thoroughly drenched and downhearted, but went to a really groovy modern art museum fo free, so that was nice. we went to bed early that night, and it was really good that we did b/c the next day was jam packed with awesome. we woke up, walked around a bit, got the bus to monaco, and hung out in monaco for a few hours. monaco is gorgeous (and i would share pictures at this point but i unfortunately accidentally deleted all of my pictures of nice and monaco. oops. dad said he could recover them though, so i'll put them up soon if it works). we saw the palace and just walked around staring at its gorgeousness and taking sweet pics. then that afternoon we went back to nice, went shopping and i bought a super cute dress, and then went to the beach. it was absolutely lovely, and the weather was like 60s all day so that was fabby.

in order to get to florence, we had to catch a bus at 4 a.m. from the outside of a closed bus stop in nice. that was sketchy as hell, but that part of nice was dead at that hour so it wasn't as bad as i feared. i still held my giant water bottle poised as a weapon though, just in case. better safe than sorry right? the bus ride to florence was stunning. i was too excited to sleep when it was still dark, but for some reason my body shut down as soon as the sun rose so i slept through most of the beauty, but the night time views were still gorgeous. the theme for this spring break was that everything looked like a postcard, and it was so valid. the theme song on the other hand was lady gaga's "born this way" which apparently europe is obsessed with, but that's another story. when we got to florence, we had a wee bit of trouble finding our hostel, and we kind of wandered around with our suitcases slightly lost for like 2.5 hours. we were misinformed directionally though, and had to walk forever to find the bus that we were told would take us to our hostel... though apparently if we had taken the 17 we would have been able to get there directly from where we were. oh well, lessons learned. when we got to the hostel, we weren't allowed to check in b/c it was noon and for some reason hostel 7 santi is sketchy and won't let you stay in the hostel at all from 12-3... weird. but we were meeting the other 3 girls (american) that we are friends with over here at the museum where The David is at 1, so we pretty much ran there once we figured out what bus to take. solid. we met up with them, then ate pizza at a cute little bar type place, and then went on to Il Duomo, where we made the trek all the way up to the top. oh yeah, it was scary as balls, since i absolutely abhor heights and i'm fairly claustrophobic, but it was so worth it. the stairs up were really narrow and steep, and you have to take the same staircase down from the top so you are running into a bunch of people going both ways (just a heads up for anyone going to florence...) but the view is so fantastic that i'd advise it to anyone, even scairdy-cats like me. you can see for miles and miles and miles and miles... into more tuscan countryside etc. seriously fantastic. i didn't have a memory card yet for this, so i have no pictures, but the other girls took loads for me so if y'all get on facebook i should be tagged fairly soon. :) (plus i was kind of hugging the wall trying not to freak out, but the view was just as nice from the wall as it was when i ventured forwards to the edge, worry not). we found a mexican restaurant that night for dinner, and enjoyed wandering around the city for awhile that afternoon. the mexican restaurant was dank!! i got a chicken quesadilla and it was marvelous. om nom nom. we ended up going back the next night for happy hour, so that was awesome too. i got my guacamole fix that night. :) the next day we saw THE DAVID, and yes, it was just as amazing as you would think. it is HUGE, and gorgeous. i've never seen a more magnificent statue. i mean, i'm still in awe. you aren't allowed to take pictures of it, and if you do then you get screamed at in italian by multiple workers (as we learned the hard way) so don't try it. they have supersonic hearing when it comes to camera clicks. like hawks. its insane. the rest of the museum was cool, but david stole the show by a lot. the old instruments were my second favorite though. we tried to go to see the medici residence, but it was closed on wednesdays so we couldn't get in, and then the uffizi is really expensive to get in so we skipped that too. i bought a lot of art and an awesome vintage purse at this tiny italian vintage shop, and a skirt and these awesome purple feather earrings at this other cool store. i also got sarah beth's birthday present in florence, so florence was a great success in the shopping department as well as the gorgeous department. florence was my favorite of the trip, apart from the hostel that reminded me of a mental hospital combined with a jail. it was so scary, and we had a middle aged columbian man staying in our room the last night, so that was sketchy as well. he was very weird, and kept moving around all night... creepy. but other than that, florence rocked!!

we left the next day for venice. i had some struggles on the train with an italian lady b/c we were assigned the same seat number on our tickets, but luckily i was able to sit elsewhere. it was very scary though when the ticket checker man came around, though he didn't speak any english so i was in luck, as i had printed mine before hand in english. hooray!! the other passengers found my face hilarious when he came around to check, as apparently i looked pure terrified. but no worries, it ended fine! venice was stunning. it seriously all looked like a postcard, but is kind of boring if you are on a budget since the gondola and water ferries are kind of expensive. well, the gondola rides are really expensive and the ferry is just a wee bit less so, depending on where you catch it from. venice is also a place for tourists and lovers, so it was really crowded with tourists. however, the glass was mind blowing. i bought myself a gorgeous hand blown ornament, and if i hadn't had a weight restriction i would have bought so much more. the glass working seriously blew my mind. when i get a house of my own, i want to go back and stock up on awesome stuff. no kidding. we got lost in venice, which is apparently the thing to do, and it was such a beautiful day that i got sunburnt even with SPF 30 on!! totally worth it though. the second night in venice provided us with a strange french woman who was also middle aged and spoke very poor english, about as poor as my french is, but i was determined to communicate with her and she was much nicer once i tried. she was kind of sketchy though and kept locking up her stuff whenever she left the room, even if it was just for like 5 minute stretches. weird. but no matter, she was very nice when we had to get up at like 4:30 again to catch a shuttle to get to the airport to fly back into paris beauvais. now, this whole trip i was sick. like couldn't lay down without coughing, had a stuffy yet runny nose the whole time and mad headaches. i would also get hot flashes and light headed on random occasions. it was weird. and italy doesn't sell sudafed in their pharmacies! the only drug i recognized was paracetamol, but that is tylenol so that wasn't gonna do it. so that being said, i flew home a day early and it was totally worth it. i figured, i've already seen paris and i feel like dog mess so a good night sleep in my own bed where i don't have to share a room with anyone is going to be worth it. and it was--i feel better today, but still ill. i'm going to the pharmacy tomorrow for more sudafed--they weren't open today.   so i managed to navigate from paris beauvais to charles de gaulle airport (two 15 euro shuttles, btw), and then through the airport, even though effin easy jet made me check my baggage b/c they are wayyy stricter than ryan air about baggage sizes. heads up--they want it to just slide into the checker thing. no pushing. garbage. i caused a scene and cried and yelled a bit, but it did no good. oh well. i then managed to navigate from the glasgow international airport back to stirling all on my own! yay me! and nothing broke in the flight so that was a positive as well.

here is are two pictures of venice, though my pics aren't nearly as good as holly's--she has a gnarly camera. i tried though!

so all in all, a very successful and awesome spring break. it's good to be back in scotland though, i really do love it here. i felt like i was coming home, and it was great. :) mom, dad and conrad are coming to visit on wednesday!! yay!! so i'll update again after they leave. i've also got comic con in london next weekend with aidan and his friends, so i'm pumped for that too. wahoo!!!

i love you all my dear readers, i hope you enjoyed yet another long and silly blog post by me.


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