My Nike backpack and I go abroad for Christmas Vacation

Posted By: Raychelle Santos
Posted On: January 17th, 2017
Attending: Ulster University

Christmas for me is a time that I get to unwind and reconnect with my family over food and good company at home. Well, this Christmas was slightly different. This Christmas I didn’t get to unwind and reconnect with my family, instead, I was travelling with some of my fellow Victory Scholars. This Christmas Break I was going to travel to Rome, Florence, Pisa, Barcelona, and Edinburgh. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. The only thing that gave me a little comfort was that I was going to be with my friends and we were going to experience this new adventure together.

This adventure began with myself and a backpack, courtesy of Nike. That was the first challenge; being able to get fifteen days worth of clothes and other accessories necessary for travel. I was able to do this with only bringing the basics that I could re wear. (I know sounds gross right haha). I did know that one of the hostels we were staying at had a washing and drying machine so that would be the perfect time to wash all my things just in time for my last leg of the trip.

The next part of this adventure was the language barrier. I don’t know why this didn’t cross my mind at all but I didn’t think the language barrier in Italy was going to effect my travel at all. Well, it did greatly in the beginning, since I was travelling to Rome alone since Jess and Megan were already there. I didn’t realize that Italian was not close to Spanish at all (I know enough Spanish to get me around) and I was losing it. I thought it would be fine since I had my phone and I could map out where to go. See that only works if the bus travels the correct route. The bus decided to throw me a curve ball and go off the beaten path. That is where I started to struggle and when I spoke to my first local. Fortunately I was able to get some help and got off the right spot. After that the mishaps were at a minimum throughout the whole trip.

Rome- In Rome we were able to do many things like go to the Colosseum, see the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain and have a Lizzie Maguire moment, eat a lot of gelato, have the best Canoli’s, and enjoy the Italy’s finest pasta and pizza.

Florence- Florence was a place we were all excited to see since some of our classmates travelled there for study abroad so we had a little of things we wanted to check off our lists. In Florence we ate the best gelato again, bargained at the leather market, see the famous David, eat the best Panini on the planet, get free sparkling water from the fountains, take pictures from the best view ever- Michaelangelo Piazzo, and see the most beautiful churches.

Pisa- Leaning Tower of course.

Barcelona- Here in Barcelona it was only Jess and I. We spent Christmas here and I am really glad we decided to stay at a hostel. This hostel was by far my favorite since it felt like a home. There was a communal kitchen and living room area which was always playing music or playing movies. In Barcelona we took the subway everywhere since Barcelona is so big. We were able to experience the most delicious tapas, sweets, fresh squeezed juices, see the popular Gaudi Cathedral, experience the whole Park Guell, take in the Barcelona sun and go for bike rides on the beach with new friends, and take in the whole Christmas spirit by going to midnight Christmas mass at a Catalan church.

Edinburgh- I was especially excited for Edinburgh because I was going to be able to spend some time alone and see some things on my own. But, I was also excited to spend some time with my aunt from California that decided to spend New years with me. We did the Hogmanay festival so our days were packed with events. While in Edinburgh I ate a lot of good food both Scottish and Indian. I was able to see the Edinburgh castle, go to a haunted dungeon tour, also do a historical underground vault tour, experience the scotch whiskey tour, see the Holyrood Palace, see more churches, and just see the beauty all around me that Edinburgh had to offer.

Travelling for fifteen days across Europe and Spain is something that I wont forget and will always cherish. I walked away learning more about myself, developing stronger relationships with Jess and Megan, and ultimately realizing that I am stronger than I think, mentally, and physically. On to more adventures!

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