For our spring break we decided that instead of booking a trip through a company, we would plan our trip ourselves. We ended up waiting until only two weeks before spring break to book it, and we couldn’t be happier that we did! We started our spring break by taking a bus from Florence to Rome at 2:30 AM. We had a slight traumatic experience with the bus we took, but eventually all ten of us made it to the airport and boarded our flight from Rome to Athens, Greece. In Athens we spent a lot of time sightseeing and doing other exciting activities. One of the best was taking a Greek cooking class. In this class we got to make five different traditional Greek dishes, and at the end we got to have a delicious feast with all of our creations. We made moussaka, tzatziki, aaganaki, Greek salad, and mosaic cake. Everything tasted so delicious and it was even better since we were the ones who made it. We also did a walking tour all around the city and got to see some popular local places. For dinner, we ate an amazing meal at the Acropolis museum, which had an unreal view of the Acropolis which was completely lit up. The next day, we actually got a chance to see that amazing view up close, when we climbed the acropolis and got to see the Parthenon and an amazing view of the whole city. We also had the opportunity to do a one day cruise that took us to three different islands in Greece; Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. Although it wasn’t exactly island weather, we still had a great time! Some of us drove ATVs through Aegina, we all rode donkeys through the streets of Hydra, and we ate a delicious meal in Poros.
Our second portion of the trip took place in Mykonos, Greece. Going into spring break, our initial excitement was for our stay in Mykonos. However because it was off season, the city was very deserted. Most of the restaurants and stores in the city were closed, which left us with not much to do there. Fortunately, we stayed in a spectacular Airbnb overlooking the Aegean Sea. Though it was a little chilly in the mornings, the sun came out and allowed us to enjoy the pool, sun bathing, and relaxing. We left the Airbnb only to pick up food from the restaurant at the end of our street, and pick up groceries from the grocery store at the end of our street. It is safe to say by the end of our trip we were rolling out of Mykonos because of the amount of food we indulged. Although we didn’t ride donkeys through Mykonos or ATV along the seaside, Mykonos was the perfect balance we needed for our spring break. Our adventurous activities took place in Athens, our relaxation took place in Mykonos, and our partying began and ended in Barcelona!
Upon our arrival to the Barcelona Airport, we could tell we were in for quite the weekend just from the size of the airport! It took about fifteen minutes just to walk to the baggage claim area. Once we collected our bags we were off to our second Airbnb of the break.
We decided to visit Barcelona during a pretty hectic time for students studying abroad. A music festival called AbroadFest was going on and the Barcelona Beach area was filled with twenty years old Americans. Though we knew what we were getting ourselves into, we still made it a point to visit some of the major landmarks of Barcelona.
Something that was a bit surprising about the city was how spread out it was. We quickly realized that taxi prices were adding up so we began to take the metro, but it took about forty minutes to get from place to place. This was something totally different than what we were used to in Florence. Our first stop was the Sagrada Familia. This beautiful church, still under construction, was quite an interesting site to see. On one side, it appeared to be Gothic and constructed hundreds of years ago. Take a five minute walk to the other side of the church and it looks like architecture from some sort of fantasy land. It was truly a breath-taking site. Unfortunately, because of lack of planning we were not able to enter the building.
We then took a forty minute metro adventure, followed by a forty minute hike to the top of the Barcelona bunkers, this was definitely worth the view! Because we arrived around 3 pm, it was siesta time, something extremely interesting to observe in Spain. Every restaurant, store, stand, and grocery was closed. Because of this, it was a serene walk up to the top. The view was truly breathtaking and worth all the sweat!
To finish our sightseeing tour we ended at Park Guell. Park Guell was donated to the city of Barcelona in the early 1900s and was predominantly constructed by the artist Gaudi. The park is famous for its unique architecture, particularly the chimney’s on the Gaudi houses. These buildings were truly unique and incredible to see.
As our Barcelona adventure came to our end, we sipped sangria and had some famous dishes such as patatas bravas and paella. We loved traveling around and having a week to explore but we all could agree we were extremely excited to come back home to Florence. Upon our return, we really began to realize that our time abroad here is passing faster than we ever expected. We want to make the most of every minute and day we have left!
By Amanda Deutch, Arielle Frechter, and Sydney Levy (University of Maryland)