Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Ups and Downs: Amsterdam, Paris, London

I am falling behind on these blog posts!  I really need to get my stuff together.

My time in Florence is actually flying by and each week seems shorter and shorter.  Which is a good and a bad thing, I do miss the US, mostly my friends and family, but I wanna take in as much culture as possible and only have a month and a half to do it.  Time to get to work.  As for the reason I haven't been blogging, well, it could be attributed to the fact that I am very busy all the time (which is the same excuse I give for my lack of exercise) but in reality I am a bit lazy.  I have in fact been very busy for the past two weeks, the last 10 days were my fun, hectic, emotional spring break.
I started my trip in Amsterdam.  We flew in early and arrived to our hostel by the afternoon. The atmosphere of Amsterdam was nothing like I expected.  Honestly, Amsterdam had never been on my 'must travel to' list, mostly because of the negative connotation of word 'Amsterdam'  (drugs and prostitutes), but the city was surprisingly fascinating.  Amsterdam was full of eclectic food choices (my favorite being the multiple french fry stands), vintage book stores, and lots and lots of clothes.  I was surprised how American everything felt in Amsterdam.  Everyone was overly friendly, spoke english, and dressed for the most part like Americans.  It was a welcomed change from the black wardrobe and permanent frown I had been rocking for the past month in Florence.  My cuisine highlight was definitely the huge food market I found in the central Amsterdam.  This was nothing like the fresh food market in Barcelona. Imagine a Wegman's on steroids.  Absolutely amazing;  freshly baked cookies and scones, gourmet soups and pre made salads.  After a lot of good food, some really exciting bars, and a surprisingly clean and comfortable hostel stay, I was ready to go to Paris (aka I wanted to relive Lauren Conrad's Paris experience on The Hills- meeting a french band, vespa ride to the Eiffel Tower, etc.)  Unfortunately, I had probably the worst luck ever in Paris; I decided it's not my city sadly.

Starting the day I was excited to go to Paris, the fashion, the food, everything.  We decided to take a train; the tickets I had previously purchased online.  Arriving at the train station early, we hastily went to retrieve our tickets, only to find out that the train station in Amsterdam didn't accept our reservations.  Livid, I was forced to spend close to $300 on a one way trip to Paris.  Although I was furious (I had to use the remainder of my 'just in case' money on the train), I was set on making my first day in Paris a good one.  We were able to see the Champs-Élysées (SHOPPING) and the Louvre.  Before coming, embarrassingly I had no clue what the Lourve was, I thought it was a river or maybe a canal, bad I know.  It ended up not being a river (big surprise there) but the largest museum I have ever been to.  If you are thinking of going and love art, make it a full day trip.  Once again I felt a little less cultured when the only painting I recognized was the Mona Lisa (which was a bit underwhelming-all the movies make the painting look huge, it's not), but I still enjoyed walking through the museum alone gazing at paintings, sculptures, and my favorite part: jewelry from all over the world.  After a full day of walking around (I chose heeled boots to walk around in for a good 8 hours, not so smart) I was more than ready to return to the hostel.  After a metro ride, I casually reached into my purse for my wallet.... NOTHING. My wallet and everything inside it (license, debit card, money, etc.) was stolen, and I had no extra money (due to the train incident earlier that day); in short, I was a mess.   After a fair amount of crying and a long phone car to my parents and to the bank, I was just ready to go to sleep. 

The next day, refreshed,  I went to Versailles, which was absolutely beautiful.  I gasped at the beauty of each room (the security guard laughing) and pretended I was Marie Antionette.  However, my daydreams were rudely interuppted by hoards and hoards of Asian tourists which made my French daydreams a little less realistic.  After a lunch of a baguette and cheese under the Eiffel Tower (very touristy; however I did see many locals just walking around eating a full baguette NOM) we went back to the hostel to get dressed for a full night.  We started the night off back at the Eiffel Tower, we were able to get tickets to the top and the view was amazing at night; unlike any view I have ever seen.  We then found a small french restaurant, where I ordered a steak with french fries?  Either way it was divine; on a side note don't order sausage in France, it's intestines.  After a bottle of champagne under the tower, we headed home.  The last day in Paris I sucessfully managed to shatter my raybans and break the zipper on my purse.  Like I said, Paris and I aren't the closest of friends.

Moving on, London was my favorite part of my break.  I decided the experience you have in a new city really depends on the people you're with, and I couldn't be more happy to see my best friends Rachel and Allie.  It was definitely the comfort I needed after Paris.  We arrived in London early morning, and as I looked around for Rachel, I saw a british girl walking past me in a tan trench, maroon pants and boots.  Cute outfit I thought, but after a closer look, THAT'S RACHEL; she looked so european.  I basically cried after finally realizing it was her.  After dropping my stuff off  at the hostel, Rachel and I were ready to explore.  We had a quick lunch at a local food market (amazing), my meal included a venison burger on french bread and a chocolate english pudding cake.  We later met up with Allie, another emotional reunion, and walked around London.   After seeing Big Ben and that bridge from Harry Potter, I was completely satisfied just sitting and hanging out with my two friends from home.  Another comfort; they had a TV and I had time to have my fix of the Food Network (aka Barefoot Contessa and Dinner's Drive Ins and Dives).  

The next day we went to Harrods, which honestly was the highlight of my trip.  Harrods is nothing like any other department store, no, it's the Ritz Carlton of department stores.  It was like a museum holding everything I love: designer clothes (Oscar de la Renta gowns I could touch!), Fine jewelry (one Cartier necklace was 2 million euro), and gourmet food.  It was literally mind-blowing and although I only left the store with a red velvet cupcake, I enjoyed it. The rest of London seems like a blur but was filled with little highlights that made me love the city: finding a three story bar with live music (mostly Kings of Leon covers), having one of the best coffees from Monmouth, and casually running into Justin Bieber (literally craziness, some of his fans are psychopaths, although I must admit I was screaming with excitement right next to them). Leaving London was a bit difficult, aka leaving my friends, but I was ready to return to Florence.

After the hustle and bustle of busy city after busy city; I was more than happy to be back in the small Firenze.  I loved London, however I really appreciate Florence after being so overwhelmed with the amount of people and the size of the city.  There is something so quaint and beautiul about being able to walk across the whole city in 40 minutes.  Florence is still definitely my favorite city so far, and although I had to get used to speaking Italian once again, I enjoyed returning to the comfort of my bed, my routine, and my clothes.  My trip was long and exhausting but honestly amazing.  It also was A LOT OF MONEY, therefore I will be remaining in Florence for the rest of my semester, which I am perfectly content with.

I miss everyone at home, thanks for reading. 

Oh and once again, enjoy this embarrassing picture of me in a shoe.


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