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Archive for July, 2009

So… I haven’t updated in forever.  As I’m sure you can imagine, I just got caught up with everything so I didn’t have much time to blog!  Since Prague (which feels like so long ago), I’ve been to lots of other cities and done some pretty cool things….and I also returned home, with mixed emotions.  The first 2 weeks back were nice since I was able to catch up with some family and friends (and celebrate my 21st birthday States-style), but after that it finally hit me: 

I’m no longer in Paris.

I’m back to the grind now..working the same job as the last 2 summers at Temple.  I still love it!  But nothing is the same.  I feel like a different person than when I left.  I mean, I’m still the same MONICA as before…but I feel like I see things and the world through a different light now.  A better light, a more understanding light.  I love Europe so much..and I miss it so much.  It’s going to be hard for others to understand who haven’t experienced something similar.  I’m sure people won’t want to continue hearing about all my stories and adventures, haha.  But all good things come to an end, right? 😦

So after Prague, I went on my Spring Break which was 16 days long!  Matt (from my program) and I backpacked through Italy for the first week together.  We landed in Rome and spent a couple days there, then took a train to Florence and spent a few days there.  After that, we took a day trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, and then took a train to Milan and stayed there for a day.  Then finally we took a train to Venice and spent a couple days there.  Italy was absolutely gorgeous.  I’ve never had such good pizza and gnocchi and gelato.  It was so delicious.  After our week in Italy, Matt went to England and Scotland and I left for Barcelona, where I spent a week with Ashley and her friends there.  Barcelona was one of the COOLEST places I’ve ever been.  There are mountains surrounding one side of the city and the Mediterranean surrounding the other side.  Just gorgeous…and everyone was friendly and so laid back and chill.  Much much different from Paris, but I loved it!!  It’s second in my top 5 favorite cities…right after Paris of course 😉

Me in front of the Colosseum in Rome

Roman Forum

The best Pizza on Earth!

The best Pizza on Earth!

Colosseum @ night!

Colosseum @ night!

On top of the duomo in Florence

On top of the duomo in Florence

Ponte Vecchio...famous bridge in Florence

Ponte Vecchio...famous bridge in Florence

typical picture..holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

typical picture..holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Duomo in Milan - my favorite of them all!

Duomo in Milan - my favorite of them all!

gondola in Venice :)

gondola in Venice 🙂

St. Marks Square

St. Mark's Square

Ponte Rialto..famous bridge in Venice

Ponte Rialto..famous bridge in Venice

trying spanish tapas for the first time in Barcelona!

trying spanish tapas for the first time in Barcelona!

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Park Guell

Parc Guell

group shot at the fountain show in Barcelona

group shot at the fountain show in Barcelona

After Barca, I flew back to Paris and had a week of class then traveled to London for a long weekend.  We took the Chunnel (Eurostar)!!!  It was so fast!!  About a 2 hr train ride and we were only under the Channel for about 20 minutes.  London was also one of my favorite places.  I went with Alexa and Rosy from my program and we stayed right by the train station, King’s Cross/St. Pancras.  London was amazing!  I had THE best Indian food there…best curry chicken & samosas ever!  We saw all the major sights, plus we took a really cool day trip that was totally worth it (about 35 pounds) to Windsor Castle, Bath, and Stonehenge!  I think I met the friendliest people there, too.  And I really loved the London Underground 🙂

In the London Underground :)

In the London Underground 🙂

:)

🙂

London Bridge!

London Bridge!

posing with a guard at Windsor Castle

posing with a guard at Windsor Castle

jumping pic at Stonehenge!

jumping pic at Stonehenge!

crossing Abby Road with Rosy & Alexa :)

crossing Abbey Road with Rosy & Alexa 🙂

in a souvenir shop in Piccadilly Circus

in a souvenir shop in Piccadilly Circus

Me with the London Eye at night

Me with the London Eye at night

Big Ben at night!

Big Ben at night!

Then I returned back to Paris and had another week of class and then took a weekend trip to Berlin and met up with Ashley!  We took the free walking tour and had a really funny tour guide, Summer Banks.  We also both bought Birkenstocks, which by the way, are SO much cheaper in Germany than in the US!  We had some good beer and some good currywurst, too 🙂  Berlin was also in my top 5 cities — it just has so much history…the Berlin Wall, Hitler’s bunker, etc.  It also has the coolest street art ever.  Every corner you turn there is street art on the walls of buildings and on sidewalks, etc.  It was awesome!

Ash and Me at the Berlin Wall

Ash and Me at the Berlin Wall

TV Tower in Berlin

TV Tower in Berlin

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral

Brandenburg Gate at night

Brandenburg Gate at night

Inside the Reichstag looking down at all the seats

Inside the Reichstag looking down at all the seats

The next weekend I spent my last weekend in Paris just doing all the things I enjoy doing..walking the streets, getting crêpes, sitting in the beautiful gardens and people-watching, and visiting some places that I hadn’t been before.  It was a nice relaxing weekend…and a bittersweet one as well.  Then the following week I prepared for my finals and actually took my huge (3 hour!) final on Saturday, May 23rd, aka my 21st birthday.  As soon as we were finished, a few of my friends and I went to Maoz to get falafels and then I took a 5 hr train ride to Amsterdam to meet my friends for the weekend!  I had an amazing time… we also saw Anne Frank’s house where and her family hid during WWII and went to the Heineken Experience to see how they brew their beer!  Definitely a fun time.  Then Ash and I returned to Paris where we spent a week of sightseeing and hanging out.  It was fun seeing everything for the last time and for the first time for Ashley.  My last night in Paris we spent on the Champ de Mars where we had a bottle of wine from Bordeaux and watched the Eiffel Tower and laid out on a blanket.  It was such a good way to end my experience in Paris.

Brewing beer at the Heineken Experience!

Brewing beer at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam!

beautiful canals in Amsterdam

beautiful canals in Amsterdam

Ash and Me in the m of the I amsterdam structure :)

Ash and Me in the 'm' of the I amsterdam structure 🙂

hehe, a big dutch wooden shoe!

hehe, a big dutch wooden shoe!

After our week in Paris, we flew to Athens and spent a few days there with a friend of my Aunt Sheila.  His name is Kostas (so greek!).  We walked all around, went to the National Museum of Archaeology, climbed the acropolis and Mt. Lykabettos, and saw the Parthenon.  We also visited Sounio, which is the southernmost point of Attica to see the Temple of Poseidon.  Athens wasn’t one of my favorite cities — but it had amazing sights and history.  After our few days in Athens were up, we took a TINY (like 40 people)  flight to the island of Kythira in Greece, where my Aunt Sheila and Uncle Panayotis live.  The flight was only 40 minutes long.  We could have taken the ferry, but that was a 6 hour journey.  So we spent a week there visiting my Aunt and Uncle and staying in their home.  Greece was BEAUTIFUL….the beaches were unbelievable and I ate the best food the whole time.  THE BEST FETA CHEESE IN THE WORLD!  We had gyros, souvlaki, baklava, and paximadi!  By the end of the week though,  I was all traveled out and ready to head back to the US.  By that point, I had been in Europe for 4+ months!

typical greek homes :)

typical greek homes 🙂

Theater of Dionysus, climbing up the Acropolis

Theater of Dionysus, climbing up the Acropolis

Ash and I at the Acropolis

Ash and I at the Acropolis

the Parthenon!

the Parthenon!

view of Athens from Mt. Lykabettos

view of Athens from Mt. Lykabettos

the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio

the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio

Aunt Sheila & Uncle Panayotis home in Fratsia, Kythira

Aunt Sheila & Uncle Panayotis' home in Fratsia, Kythira

Kapsali...the most beautiful beach ever!!

Kapsali...the most beautiful beach ever!!

Me, Uncle Panayotis, and Aunt Sheila

Me, Uncle Panayotis, and Aunt Sheila

Ash, Me, and Aunt Sheilas 2 neighbors..who are Kostas parents!

Ash, Me, and Aunt Sheila's 2 neighbors..who are Kostas' parents!

Me, Uncle Panayotis, & Ash

Me, Uncle Panayotis, & Ash

Ash and Me in our shades :)

Ash and Me in our shades 🙂

Anyway, so I’m 21 now and back in the US of A.  As if celebrating my 21st in Amsterdam wasn’t enough, I celebrated with friends and family the week I got back at Chickie’s and Pete’s.  What a fun night that was!!  It was good seeing some people and it was a lot of fun because turning 21 in Europe just isn’t the same!  This Friday Ash and I are going to the Phils game (we’re playing the Mets!!), which was her bday present to me!  I’m so excited!  Then we’re heading down to her beach house in Rehoboth with Ash’s friend from HS, Denise, and the rest of Ash’s family.  I cannot wait to be on the beach and set off fireworks for the 4th of July!!  I really  hope we have great weather.

That’s all I’ve got for now…I still can’t believe I’m home and that I just spent the last 4 months in Europe.  It feels so surreal.

-Monica

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