If you know me, you know that I am very close to my mom--she is one of my best friends which is not something that every kid can say. With that being said, studying abroad and being so far away from her has been so difficult but it's made me love and miss her even more than I do at school! When I decided I was studying abroad, she asked if she could come visit me over Spring Break and I was so happy that she wanted to come! I've been waiting for this day since I left and now she's here!! Delta canceled her flight and didn't have another one available until the next day but she wanted to come see me as soon as possible so she flew from Columbus to Toronto to Rome to Madrid (I flew to Madrid yesterday morning). She traveled all day and was exhausted but we still laughed and talked like I hadn't been gone for 2.5 months! Then today we explored Madrid and just had fun laughing and enjoying the glorious weather! We ate paella in the famous Plaza Mayor and then proceeded to walk around, ending at the palace. It wasn't even the sites in Madrid that were great, it was just being with family. You value your family when you go to college but you really value them when you jump across the pond! I'm so glad she came to share this experience with me!
Ireland has been on the top of my must-see-countries list and so I decided to take a 5 day weekend that we had to go to Ireland with a few friends and enjoy this country. My brother and sister-in-law went a couple of years ago and said there was something special about but of course I had to see it for myself. Well...they were right. Ireland was a country full of life, greenland, amazing food, great times, and even better people. I could go back to Ireland and easily spend another week there without being bored. Whether it was going out to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone, going to an impromptu Usher concert, enjoying the breathtaking views of Cliffs of Moher, or just walking around Dublin, surprisingly I have had the BEST time here. I have a lot of respect for this country and especially the people. Very prideful but never arrogant, which is refreshing! People just strike conversations with you on the street just and offer help without even being asked. Even though there are a ton of people who live there, it's still somehow a relaxed environment. I've never been in such a big city that can feel this calm. I wish that big cities in the US felt like this, and I would be more inclined to visit LOL. All this to say, I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED Ireland and am already missing it! I can't wait to go back when I'm older!
Blarney Castle was my first stop in Ireland! It is one of the most famous castles in Ireland as it was built nearly 600 years ago and still stands. It is widely famous for housing the Blarney stone, a stone that is kissed by visitors in order to bring them elegance. However, in order to kiss the stone, you have to hover above a hole in the castle, many stories above the ground. There is a guy that holds you to make sure you do not fall but nonetheless, I was still scared to do it! This journey is about conquering my fears though so I still did it! I'm not sure I became more elegant but it was still thrilling!
The next famous part of Blarney Castle are the Wishing Steps. Thinking of a wish, you have to walk down and up the stairs backwards with your eyes closed, thinking about nothing but your wish, in order for the wish to become true within a year. Let me tell you... absolutely terrifying! I honestly thought I was gonna break my neck but with Nicole's help I did it! Can't tell you what I wished for but hopefully it becomes true ;) I happily celebrated near a waterfall near the steps when I was done!
The day before I arrived, my friends were at the Guinness Beer Factory and right after they left, apparently Usher walked into the building. They found out about it and Nicole looked up why he was in Dublin and found out that he was on his world tour! The best part was that there were still floor seats available at a reasonably low price! Now I know that Usher isn't in his prime and it's American music but there were people from all over the world there and it was so much fun talking and jamming with people from all different countries over music that you all love. We were so close to Usher, I could practically feel the sweat dripping off of him! I was not expecting this but it was definitely one of the best nights I've ever had!
This is a traditional Irish breakfast and even though it does not look appetizing, it is delicious! I'm a big sausage fan so the sausage was my favorite part! The meat to the right of the sausage was ham, next to that was a tomato, next to the tomatoes were rice patties, and then was the fried potatoes and in the middle were beans with a sunny-sde egg. My mouth is watering just thinking about how incredible it was! And very filling! I didn't eat again until dinner time!
One of the most breathtaking views in Europe are the Cliffs of Moher and I was fortunate enough to go explore them and even more importantly, do it on a beautiful day. Words nor pictures can even do the sight justice. I spent about an hour and a half just looking at the site. You forget all your problems, worries, stress and really focus on the beauty of the world and the beauty of that moment you are in. There's definitely a peace that comes over you. I would have happily spent all day up there but unfortunately had to leave and continue on with my day. Of course not before throwing up a UC though since I was representing Cincy :)
I had so much fun exploring rural Ireland that I had not really explored Dublin! So the last day and half was spent in Dublin to of course do a tour of one of Dublin's most beloved sites: Old Jameson Distillery. It was so much fun learning and seeing why Jameson is so much different than other whiskeys! After giving us a tour of the Distillery, they have us tastings of 2 other different types of whiskey so we could compare it with Jameson. Then at the end, we all got free drinks and I chose the ginger and Jameson. I discovered that Jameson is extremely smooth and combined with ginger ale, it's amazing!
Fun fact: Jameson sells a special 12-year-old Jameson that is only available at this Distillery. You cannot find it anywhere else on this planet. So of course I bought a couple of small bottles to bring home to my family and to save as a souvenir.
The rest of the time was spent literally just walking the streets of Dublin. I did not take a taxi, bus, train, etc. but did it all on my two feet by myself the last day. Like I said, there is something calming about this country so even though I walked over 10 miles that day, it was therapeutic in a sense. Below are a couple of famous sites, including the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral and Town Hall which lit up green at night :)
Until we meet again Ireland
Last year I had the privilege of going to Paris with my business honors program, Kolodzik Business Scholars. I absolutely LOVED my time in Paris and always said if I had the chance to go back that I would. My 21st birthday is approaching and even though I always knew I would be away from family and friends during this special birthday, it really hit home this week. I'm at the point now where I want to see a familiar face. I want to talk to someone who has known me for years and who gets me. Then I realized that KBS was once again coming to Paris...and it was the weekend before my birthday. What's even more important is that one of my good friends, Allison, would be on the trip. After talking with her, I decided that being with my friends and fellow classmates was EXACTLY what I needed! I can honestly say after my trip that I'm in a better place--happier than I I have been in the past week! Even though I had already explored Paris prior to this trip, I still got to do some new things and once again take in the beauty of the City of Love. I obviously have less pictures than my London trip but I still wanted to post a few :)
Like I said in my previous post, I am not a fan of art but if you go to Paris, you must go the Louvre! Every piece of art is absolutely amazing, including the pyramid that is in the center of the museum. I cannot even describe the enormity of this place or post the vast amount of pictures of the art because it's something you have to see for yourself. However, below I posted some of the famous pieces of art like the Wings of Victory and of course, the Mona Lisa. Others are just pictures from around the Louvre :)
Fun Fact: The Mona Lisa is VERY tiny. It is probably like the size of a regular picture in your house. Very disappointing but cool to see in person. So of course, I had to take a selfie with her ;)
Next was just having fun with friends! We had a lot of "fun" trying to figure out where the famous macaroon shop, Laudree, was located in Paris. We walked up and down the same street for maybe 45 minutes! We kept asking people but due to our terrible French accents, no one had any idea what store we were talking about so we were super lost. Finally, we found a guy who spoke perfect English and French and he was able to identify where we wanted to go and give us directions! We finally arrived at Laudree and let me tell you...best macaroons of my life!!! Definitely worth the pain!
Last part of the day was spent cruising the streets and eating dinner by the Eiffel with friends! I already have a million Eiffel pictures from my last trip but a few more don't hurt... right?
Another amazing weekend in Paris with FRIENDS!! Blessed to be able to fly somewhere short notice and have a great time! Up above the clouds back to Bilbao. Je te time Paris <3
Ok so here is the deal....I have been obsessed with London for as long as I can remember! Every summer I watch Wimbledon, wishing I could be a spectator of the event in this amazing city. Before this trip, I had watched Mary Kate and Ashely's "Winning London" movie a million times, hoping that one day I could conquer the city like they did. Sometimes I had even just looked up pictures from time to time, dreaming of one day seeing them in person. Therefore, for my first trip I knew without a doubt that I had to go to London. I knew it would be a trip of a lifetime and fortunately, I was right!!
Due to an all day field trip that we had that Friday afternoon, my friend, Klarke, and I did not arrive in London until Friday night.However after a long day we made it to Heathrow! So of course I had to take a picture of my enthusiasm in the bathroom upon arriving LOL
We decided to chill Friday night but Saturday..it was time to explore! First stop was Buckingham Palace and as expected, it was incredible! It's definitely way bigger and prettier in person than I could have imagined. I've never seen a palace in person so the sheer size of it was mind blowing to me. The design was also obviously incredibly cool. Just on the gates, you can see the complex and beautiful royal emblem.
Since the guards outside Buckingham are usually only outside during the spring/summer months, we did not get to see them so we opted for the next best option: the guards of the Queen's horses. Surrounding the stables are guards standing as well as guards on the actual horses. You could actually pet the horses if you wanted but if you know me, you know I am terrified of animals! I decided to get outside of my comfort zone and get near one but as I did, it started shaking its head. I was absolutely terrified but laughed it off! Before leaving, I had to take a selfie with one of the guards in the background.
Next stop was the famous Trafalgar Square and of course, the National Gallery. In the square are these huge lion statues and they are VERY difficult to climb. However, once again being adventurous, Klarke and I decided to give it a go and after a few attempts (and a lot of girlish screams) we were successful.
Now I'm not one for art, but seeing Monet's work in person was absolutely breathtaking. The sheer details as well as the colors in the art were amazing--I couldn't believe that someone could paint something so intricate so many years ago. I walked through a lot of the museum and while I can't say that I am a great interpreter of art, I can say that I have a bigger appreciation for artists like Monet after seeing their work in person. Below is a picture of one of Monet's most famous pieces: Water Lilies.
So of course we had to stop by the famous Garfield's and get the traditional fish and chips! I am not a huge fish person but this fish was delicious and the tartar sauce was INCREDIBLE!
At this point in the afternoon, Klarke went to go get her hair done so I had a few hours to kill so I decided to go check out the biggest attraction in London: Westminster/Big Ben. Words nor pictures will describe the absolute beauty of this place. It is PHENOMENAL. It was absolutely freezing outside but I spent 15 minutes on the bridge looking at it and appreciating the view.
A lot of people go to Westminster to take pictures but what a lot of people don't know is that you can actually tour the inside of Westminster because it is the House of Commons aka the House of the English Parliament. Therefore I decided to take an audio tour of the place for a couple of hours. I would have to spend all day telling you about it but the history and the exquisiteness of Westminster is so incredibly immense, that you can't even grasp that you're in the midst of it. I was able to see where the famous Queen Victoria sat on her throne. I sat in the room and on the benches were the parliament goes to vote "yes" on legislation (going to a "yes" and a "no" room is how they vote). I was able to go into the chambers where greats like Nelville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and Tony Blair have made history with their comrades. It was an honor to be able to stand in the middle of history.
Fun fact: The cool thing about this building is that even though it looks very royal, due to having oppressive monarchies so many years ago, royals are not even allowed in some of these rooms!
This by far was my favorite part of the trip! If you ever go to London, go INTO Westminster!
Ok, so I have to throw in a business side note! Coke's branding in London is HUGE!! They are the big sponsor of the famous "London Eye" (ferris wheel) and then they have these Coke bars everywhere! You can order food, coffee, and obviously any Coke product you want! Coke was everywhere in London and I definitely wasn't expecting an American company to have, what seems like, the biggest brand awareness in London. Props to Coke for successfully carrying out such a great international business plan in London.
The American side of me definitely came out when I was in London because I HAD TO GET CHIPOTLE. I will admit that I am obsessed with it in the US so I've been craving it since I have been in Europe. Of course, London is one of 2 places in Europe that has Chipotle so of course I had to get some! And as you can tell, Klarke and I were extremely happy LOL
The next day, the weather was a lot nicer so I revisited Westminster with Klarke and we walked around London, taking in more views. There was a crowd outside one of the buildings and we asked a police officer what was going on and he explained that it was the Prime Minister's House! The best part though was that he had a conversation with us for about 15 minutes and it amazing that a police officer would cordially talk to us for that long. It was the best experience I have ever had with a police officer! Of course we ended our day shopping in the famous Oxford Street. Below is a picture of the inside of the market that is in the middle of the famous shopping district! Unfortunately our trip had to end and we had to head back to Bilbao but of course....not until we got one more round of Chipotle for the airport ;)