First off, sorry for the 10-week hiatus. I’m leaving Milan in a few days, so I figure I should send one last update before I go.
Since my last update, I’ve done a lot of traveling: Athens, Vienna, Budapest, Madrd, Norway (Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø), Paris, Venice, Rome, Florence, Cairo, Marrakech, Lisbon, and the Amalfi Coast. To not bore you, I’ll focus on the highlights.
Budapest: I went with Ron to Budapest, and it’s a beautiful city. We walked to the top of the Citadella, which has a great view of Budapest. Also at the top, there were some guys playing the shell game - that game where someone hides a bead under one of three bottlecaps and moves them around, and then you have to guess which cup has the bottlecaps. (See below picture of the guy as he is saying “no pictures.”) They’re total scams since the guys usually cheat, it’s borderline impossible to win. Only a fool would be so falsely confident to gamble at that game, you’d might as well just burn your money. I don’t think I have to tell the rest of this story, but it ends with me leaving the the Citadella with my wallet considerably lighter.
Madrid: Madrid was great because a lot of my friends were in Madrid that weekend. Ron, Sophie and Melissa study there, Dani came up from Grenada, and a bunch of kids from Tufts came for their spring break. We spent a day in Retiro Park, ate some churros, and like a true Madridian, didn’t get to bed until seven in the morning.
Norway: I spent a week, traveling solo, in Norway for my spring break. It was weird being by myself for so long, but I enjoyed the short break from the fast pace of study abroad. I started in Oslo - on my first night, I went to the Operahuset (opera house) and ended up sneaking in during intermission to see the second half of the opera Carmen.
I took an overnight train to Bergen (do not recommend), where I was able to see Norway’s famous fjords. They’re basically small rivers with steep cliffs on the sides, formed slowly by glacial erosion. Fun fact, because of all the fjord inlets in Norway, its coastline is longer than the US’s.
After Bergen, I went to Tromsø, which is still in Norway but over a thousand miles north of Oslo. That far north, the major attraction is seeing the Northern Lights (see below). They spectacularly light up the sky, and they seem so choreographed it’s weird to think it’s just random collisions of gas molecules that produce them.
Venice: Venice is another beautiful city, and I especially enjoyed it because I was with my mom and sisters. A little after Venice, we met up in Milan, where we got a fantastic dinner that was more like eating in an Italian grandma’s kitchen than at a restaurant (Hostaria della Lanterna, if you find yourself in the neighborhood).
Cairo: I went with (brother) Noah to Cairo on Easter weekend. There was a little bit of nervousness surrounding the safety of the trip, but we were careful and everything was okay. We used a lot of Marriott points and lived like kings (pharaohs?) for a few days. And, of course, we saw as much of Ancient Egypt as we could. There wasn’t as many other tourists as I expected, and Noah and I got to be in the Great Pyramid of Giza by ourselves. We were warned many times not to lie in the tomb, and as tempting as it was, we resisted.
Marrakech & Lisbon: I met with with Noah and my dad in Morocco, where we spent a few days touring around, going to souks, and spent a whole day visiting the Atlas Mountains near Marrakech. It was an awesome trip, and different than any of the other trips I’ve taken. After Morocco, we went to Lisbon. I was only there for a day, so we walked around a lot and of course, got some very fresh fish and seafood.
Amalfi Coast: The last trip of abroad was down on the southern Coast of Italy. I went with the guys that I live with and a bunch of other kids that are on my program. We stayed in Cetara, where Andrea has a house that we stayed at. (To jog your memory, Andrea is the awesome Italian guy that we live with here in Milan.) We went to a bunch of neighboring towns, pretty much switching off between bus and boat as our mode of transportation. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been - I constantly felt that I could be stuck in a post card. And it was also really great to spend my last trip just hanging out with all the friends I’ve made here.
Now that my time here is ending, I’m definitely sad to leave since it’s been such a great experience for me. But I’m also excited to get back home to the States, see all my family and friends, go to restaurants I’ve been craving for months, and even to start work (if I can remember what it’s like to have real responsibilities after this four month vacation). I’ll be in Cleveland next week, then in Boston the week after, then in New Jersey after that, and then in San Francisco 6/4-6/10, so if you’re in those any of those cities during those times, let me know!