Rome

Ciao!

It’s clear this city was romantic because Roma is literally her name.

This was probably one of my shortest trips but it was unforgettable nonetheless! We got to hit some major monuments and get a feel for local, Roman life 🙂

We flew in on a friday night in November and ate an amazing, Italian dinner upon arrival! I had the best spaghetti of my entire life and my friends had homemade pizza and gnocchi. Wow. We immediately recognized and appreciated the drastic change in customer service (Spain vs. Italy). The servers instantly became our best friends and we were served fresh food immediately. I was blown away!

The waiters were SO sweet and kept calling us Bella and beautiful! It was also convenient that Roma is a more international destination so almost everyone spoke english (thankfully).

We stayed in the Travestiere neighborhood which was SO FUN because it was essentially the young adult, hipster crowd. We walked around the neighborhood after dinner. I really love the way Europe, including Italy, has such an emphasis on eating, drinking and talking outside. There are always those outdoor heaters set up so people can eat outside even in the winter! Travestierre had so many cute cobblestone streets with ivy crawling up the walls.

Our first and only full day in Roma, we got an early start and headed to the Colosseum.

We got to take a walking tour and learned so much about the massive structure. It was incredibly breathtaking and larger than life! It is crazy that it was built in only 7 years. I also learned that the reason why the Colosseum is partially ruined was actually due to a massive earthquake!

One of my favorite parts of the Colosseum was getting to see old column structures and designs that I had studied in my Global Impacts of Design class (as you can see below). I was such a nerd and kept taking pictures of each style.

It was unreal to see the actual patterns and designs I studied my sophomore year of college!

Next, we headed to the Roman Forum. I can’t describe how strange and incredible it was to see such ancient ruins in person, among the bustling city of Rome.

I still can’t believe we got to see this!

We took our time wandering around the gardens and ruins for a few hours.

Then we headed to the Trevi Fountain and stumbled upon many sights on the way!

We caught the Fontana di Trevi at sunset and it was stunningly beautiful. Of course we had to throw a coin over our shoulders 😉

My eye is still swollen in this picture after I accidentally put hydrogen peroxide in my eye, thinking it was contact solution. Language barriers man….. apparently acqua ossigenata does NOT translate to water for contacts.

As the sun went down we ate some gelato and slowly made our way to the Pantheon that night.

Since we had split up from some of our group, we met up again for another amazing, Italian dinner! This time I got a yummy pizza 🙂

We walked around Travestierre and sat on the steps of this plaza with all of the locals, talking for hours.

The next morning we walked around the city one last time before catching our plane back to Bilbao! It was crazy to see ~ancient ruins~ as we were walking around the cute, cobblestone streets.

I loved the romance, rich history and architecture of the city. It was shocking how similar the Spanish and Italian languages sound which I first noticed this while listening to the radio in a taxi. This makes sense why so many of my friends from Spain will go to Italy on holiday and why so many Italians are studying with Erasmus (a European study abroad program) in Bilbao.

Roma was an amazing place to be even though we had one full day to see it. I would probably say we didn’t have enough time in Rome, even if we stayed for a week! I definitely want to come back to see so many other sites.

Italia, ti amo!

Besos,

xoxo Delaney

Amsterdam

Hallo!

I went to Amsterdam in November and it was the most amazing experience. My friend Fancesca (also studying in Bilbao) and I arrived on Thursday night so we got two full days in this magical city before leaving on Sunday. As soon as we arrived I felt like I was in a Christmas village since they had their lights set up for Christmas!

We stayed in a hostel in the Red Light District (which wasn’t as sketchy as it sounds) and ate Wok (two nights in a row) for dinner because it was the cheapest option (study abroad life). Here is a pic of Kayla and I enjoying our Wok and people watching….

That night, Francesca and I walked around the Red Light District which was very uncomfortable and shocking to see these women standing in windows and to see men go up to them made it so much more real.

The next day, we walked around the city center and shopping areas. The amount of bridges and canals was unreal!

We bought a hop-on-hop-off bus and boat tour which was SO worth it because it took us through each part of the city we wanted to see and they gave us a ton of fun facts. We also got to tour a diamond factory and try on some fancy jewelry (apparently Amsterdam is well known for its Diamonds as well).

This is a pic of me talking about how expensive this diamond ring is.

The boat tour was so fun because we got to see the city by water!

There were so many house boats which kind of reminded me of Seattle!

Waffles!

Something I noticed about Amsterdam was the abundant amount of waffles, crepes and Nutella. And BOY were they GOOD. There were so many toppings piled on the waffles, I was in heaven (and thus did not remember to take any pictures of them).

Saturday was a packed day. We went to the cutest brunch place and FEASTED before our busy day.

After brunch, we stumbled upon the cutest, most quaint local market I’ve ever seen! They sold juices, tulips, clogs and much more!

We then headed to Anne Frank’s house which was an incredible experience. It was both heart wrenching and inspiring- especially since we visited the concentration camp in Munich earlier this semester. It is incomprehensible how negatively the Holocaust impacted the world forever. Pictured below is the scenery outside of Anne Frank’s house and the church right next door.

Next, we got back on the boats and road through the canal again.

We met up with our group at the iAmsterdam sign and you can see below my complete fail, trying to take a picture with the famous sign (there were seriously so many tourists).

As the sun started to set, it started POURING rain so we took cover in an irish pub and ordered some well deserved fries. That night we all had tickets for the Heineken Experience where we got to tour their factory. I was surprised at how much fun it was!

They had a lot of technology including a Photobooth, Xbox video games, videos, karaoke and much more for tourists to spend too many hours there. There was also a big room/bar with a DJ at the end which was a fun ending to the tour!

Our last day we tried renting bikes but it was pouring rain again so we decided to instead take a ferry to the giant swing that looks out over the city! It was so windy but extremely worth it.

The views were incredible! There was also a second iAmsterdam sign with no tourists in sight!

Amsterdam was SO MUCH FUN! It’s crazy to me that some of the best english speakers in Europe have Dutch as their first language. Wow. Humans are amazing.

I definitely could see myself traveling back here. I loved the quaint neighborhoods pressed up against major areas like the Red Light District and the culture preserved in the architecture of the houses throughout the city. You can tell it has endured a lot (plagues, disasters etc). Amsterdam I love ya!

Hasta luego chicos,

xoxo Delaney

Barcelona

Buenosss!!!!

I’m back again with another belated post 🙂

This time it’s about my trip to Barcelona in October!

This city had my heart from the moment we got off of the bus from the airport. It had more of an international feel than Bilbao but I could see the Catalonian & Spanish culture more clearly unlike Madrid which felt more international in comparison to the other cities I’ve visited in Spain.

The first day we arrived, we ordered a giant pan of paella (like TRUE tourists). It was delicious, despite the warnings from our friendly Airbnb hosts who told us that paella is typically served to please tourists and it isn’t typically ordered by locals (oh well, when in Barcelona).

There were many protests going on and we accidentally walked right through one in the Gothic Quarter on our way to the beach. A man stopped us and asked if we new what was going on and proceeded to explain why he was protesting for the independence of Catalonia. At this point, Catalonia had voted in favor of independence and the locals considered themselves independent. Although, it would require international recognition of Catalonia as a new country in order for it to be legitimate.

We ate dinner in Las Ramblas which was very fun but a little unnerving when we remembered that the terrorist attack in Barcelona occurred at that location.

That night we explored the waterfront and watched the sunset along the water.

The following morning, we ate at Milk, the cutest brunch place that was only a short walk from our Airbnb (we were lucky enough to stay in such a central location). There I had the best eggs Benedict I’ve ever tasted in my life (with café con leche of course).

We then headed over to La Sagrada Familia which was definitely my favorite part of the trip. The architecture by Gaudí was astounding.

The inside of La Sagrada Familia was even more brilliant than the outside. So many colors of the rainbow lit up the church, I could have stayed in there all day. It was such a beautiful design and sight to see.

Fun fact:

Gaudí died in a very strange way…

Someone hit him with their car and didn’t help him because they thought he was homeless (which is horrible that this person wouldn’t help someone in a state of homelessness, but that’s beside the point). By the time they realized the injured person was Guadí, it was too late for the doctors to help him and he passed away. How crazy and sad!

After getting some gelato from across the street, we began the long, uphill walk to Park Güell (don’t ask me why I suggested that we walk, it was very painful).

The views were incredible and I was glad we made the walk (although next time you will catch me taking the metro up the hill).

It was incredible to see the different style of architecture Gaudí used. It was nothing like I’ve ever seen before and reminded me of a ginger bread house!

We spent a lot of time here and headed back down the mountain.

I really enjoyed wandering the streets of Barcelona, without a structured plan and simply taking in the sites and unique culture. The weather was so perfect!

That night we explored more of the Gothic Quarter and got giant slices of pizza for 2 euros!!!! We also stumbled upon a giant concert held in honor and in celebration of the independence of Catalonia. There were people everywhere so we decided to head to a different area since we clearly weren’t a part of their independence.

The next morning we ate at the brunch place next to Milk which had amazing eggs Benedict as well!

On our way out on Sunday, we walked along the boardwalk and I stuck my toes in the sparkling water. For lack of time we just got cafés con leche to drink on the beach (with an amazing view).

Overall, Barcelona was a real treat. I loved the relaxed atmosphere and Spanish culture. It also helped that I traveled with some amazing people who made my experience that much more fun! You will catch me here again, soon…

Hasta pronto!

xoxo Delaney

Paris

Bonjour!

It has been a while since my last post because I was completely swamped with classes and travel plans (yes, I am receiving a proper education over here).

PARIS

What an amazing city that exceeded my expectation in every way. Before this trip I was expecting the people to be rude to us as tourists, and to see a city that was charming and romantic. But Paris was much more than that. We interacted with some of the most kind people I’ve ever met who were willing to go out of their way to help us (more on this later). The first day in Paris we headed to the Louvre which was MUCH bigger than expected. The architecture was beautiful and I especially loved seeing the archived Greek and Roman columns because I took a class my sophomore year where we learned about the various styles of Greek and Roman archetecture, specifically with their columns. It was cool to see those concepts in person!

ALSO, as we were walking into The Louvre, we happened to see none other than Kobe Bryant…. we tried to go up to him but his security guard asked us not to follow them (bummer). The funniest part was that the ladies working the ticket station were really confused when we started freaking out about seeing Kobe so we had to explain who he was to us Americans.

After The Louvre we ate dinner at a quaint restaurant, picked up some Milka chocolate at a store and headed to the Eiffel Tower or Torre Eiffel, as the Parisians call it. This is an important detail to know when you’re asking locals for directions otherwise they don’t know what you are talking about.

The Eiffel Tower was SO MUCH BIGGER than I expected it to be.

The next day, we went to the cutest mom & pop’s creperie which we discovered when the old man cooking the crepes hollered at us in Spanish and told us to come inside.

The best crepes of my life!!!! (Clearly my english skills are declining as my spanish improves).

I really do believe you can find some of the best food unexpectedly and at hole-in-the-wall restaurants like this one. It was also unbelievable to me that our waitress spoke spanish, french and english.

We then headed to Montmartre to see an incredible view of the city (we’re still not sure if we made it to Montmartre but we definitely saw some incredible views and a beautiful church).

Next, we headed to the Catedral de Notre Dame which was absolutely incredible as well. We were able to join an english tour of the cathedral and learned about Joan of Arc, the Roman Catholic saint, and the numerous times the Notre Dame had been reconstructed over time (due to politics, war etc).

Our tour guide showed us a part of the cathedral where you can make out a shadow on the wall that looks like none other than Quasimodo! Another fun fact is that Victor Hugo’s novel written in 1829 actually helped save the cathedral since it brought so much attention to its beautiful, Gothic architecture.

We then headed to the river nearest to the Notre Dame and had a picnic with baguettes, cheese and prosciutto. Yummy 🙂

After hanging by the river (and surviving the pouring rain) we meandered over to the Royal Gardens (on accident).

A very nice local walked us all the way to the Arc de Triumph after taking this picture of us (because at this point we had ran out of cell data to look up directions).

We made it up to the top of the arc right as the sun wad setting. It was one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen and I realized how vast of a city Paris really is!

After taking in the incredible views, we literally ran to make our dinner reservation where I ate the BEST meal I’ve ever had in my life.

It was 5 courses and the chef made the plates right in front of our eyes!

Around 10:30pm we arrived at our Airbnb and our magical weekend took a very unexpected turn…. buckle up everyone because this blog post is about to get much longer.

Essentially, when we got back we quickly realized the door to the Airbnb somehow got locked from the inside (and there was no keyhole for that lock). After hours of trying to figure out how to open the door (and no luck with an unresponsive, drunk airbnb host) a locksmith came to the apartment around 1:30am. We were lucky enough to get help from our VERY kind, bilingual neighbors and a hotel concierge from down the street. The locksmith told us we had to get the owner’s permission to literally break down the door (you read that correctly). Pictured below is a pure moment of histeria, lack of sleep, and stress (waiting for hours in the stairwell of the apartment building was quite an experience).

We ended up booking a hotel at 3:30am with the friendly concierge who also gave us free breakfast (I am still in awe at how kind and giving the locals were to us). After a tight 3.5 hours of sleep, we woke up at 7am to get a move on our long day. Nikki and Siri went back to the apartment and knocked on the neighbors’ door one last time. I was worried we would miss our flight and I would miss my test on Monday since our host was still not responding (probably passed out drunk somewhere). The neighbors were extremely helpful and even called their lawyer friends, contacted the fire department to get the door open, and one lady even took time out of her day to translate for Nikki at the police station to file a report (for legal safety). Around noon we finally got into our room and we were on our way! We ended up making our flight after such a stressful night. We thought we would have to sleep on the streets of Paris for a night (not safe by the way).

All in all, Paris treated us very well and I experienced the most kind and helpful people in all of Europe! I feel ignorant for listening to other tourists who claim that all Parisians are rude and unfriendly. I loved Paris and the people in it!

Thank you for staying with me through this long blog post! There will be more coming soon 🙂

Au revoir!

xoxo Delaney

Pamplona

Hello all!

Last weekend my mother and aunt came to visit Bilbao! It was a blast showing them where I’ve been living for the past month or so. We visited Pamplona the first day they arrived and it was actually quite similar to the Casco Viejo area of Bilbao. We ate a menu of the day (which includes a drink, starter, main course and a dessert for around 10 euros). After our meal we wandered around the cobble stone streets of Pamplona, looking at shops and we stumbled upon the famous Citadel. It was much larger than the pictures below make it out to be!

After, we walked to the main plaza and got cafe con leche at the well-known bar that Hemingway spent most of his time at.

Later, we strolled to this beautiful building with a water feature in front. There were many stores on the way but it was a holiday so they were all closed.

We weren’t ablet to go in, but we saw the arena where the running of the bulls ends. It would be crazy to be here for the Running of the Bulls that takes place in the summer. For those of you who don’t know, Pamplona is the city where bulls are released in the streets and people try to run faster than the bulls all the way to the arena pictured below. If you can, you should watch some videos of this because it’s insane! They have to have professional medics on site since injuries are frequent and bloody (yikes).

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Overall, Pamplona was beautiful and charasmatic. Such a great day trip that I would take again!

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Hasta Luego!

xoxo Delaney

San Sebastian

Hello all!

So sorry about the delay in posting…. I had midterms and projects this week which took up all of my time (yes we actually do study here in Spain haha).

Two weeks ago we were supposed to go to Barcelona but we decided against it due to the massive protests going on, as Barcelona (and the Catalonia region of Spain) is attempting to liberate themselves from Spain and become their own country. Essentially, public transportation would have been a nightmare and we decided against going, for safety reasons (but no worries, we are going this weekend).

I am actually so glad we decided against going because I was able to book a last minute bus ticket to San Sebastian and stay with some of my favorite people studying here in Bilbao! If you didn’t know, San Sebastian is located about an hour bus ride away from Bilbao and is on the northern coast of Spain! It is definitely more touristy than Bilbao, since the beach is so amazing and the city is SO incredibly gorgeous. I already know I want to go back! I arrived in San Sebastian on Saturday morning and we headed to Old Town and ordered tortilla de patata (like a Spanish omelette served in between smaller baguette-like bread to make a sandwich). Of course we had to get cafe con leche as well. So yummy and filling!

Just walking around the city I knew I would never be able to study abroad here because I would want to be on the beach all day!

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We then headed to Monte Igueldo, which is an amusement park at the top of one of the major mountains of San Sebastian. There is a tall, castle-like tower at the top, with “the best view in the world.” And I can’t agree more! We spent a long time just sitting at the top of the tower, talking and enjoying the view before we walked back down the mountain.

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We walked all the way across town to the other side (where the Jesus statue is in the pictures above) for sunset.

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Overall, San Sebastian has been the most beautiful city I have visited yet. If these sunset photos don’t convince you, I’m not sure what will.

You will definitely see me here soon!

Hasta Luego!

xoxo Delaney

Munich & Oktoberfest

Wooohoo! Last weekend, myself and about ten other USAC students visited Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest which is a huge, beer fest with a fair-like atmosphere including rides, bratwursts, carnival games and so much more German food!

We camped for three nights in the cold forests of Munich, but that was part of the experience and it made it that much more exciting to go into the city each day. The first day we got there, we got settled into our campsite and headed to Oktoberfest for some bratwursts complete with mustard!

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The public transportation was super convenient because no one actually pays for it, you just get on. The facilities are extremely clean and easy to figure out (for some of us haha). Here is a picture of the massive, complicated metro system! It was mostly difficult because none of us knew how to pronounce any names of the metro stops….

 

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The next day we explored the city more, starting from the city center and walking to the English Gardens, which I would compare to NYC’s Central Park. It was massive and parts of the park were open to nudity (which was very shocking at first hahaha).

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Here are some pictures of Nikki and I exploring Munich and later you can see the pictures from the English Gardens! On our way we stopped and ate meatball sandwiches and some hungarian spicy stew at a pub with many locals. It was SO GOOD and it felt like we were being taken care of by our German mom. We also found some unbelievably delicious chocolate and coffee while we were walking around. Later that day we went back to Oktoberfest and rode rides, ate more food, and sang popular American and German songs in one of the more international friendly beer tents. Below are some pictures from near the city center.

The third day we visited the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site which was a Nazi concentration camp that was ran for 12 years. Dachau was used to set the standard for all other concentration camps. Visitin the site was very heavy and heartbreaking. The most eerie part was being in the gas chamber rooms where camp prisoners were told they were going to “shower” when in reality they would be killed by gas. It was sickening to see the areas where people were killed and the rooms that so many bodies were stored in. The most emotional part, for me, was seeing and entering the Jewish monument created after the liberation of the camp, to honor those Jewish lives lost at the concentration camp.

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Visiting Munich was amazing and it was interesting how the customer service was almos the opposite of Spain- they ask you to pay right when your food is served (instead of staying at the restaurant for hours and then asking for the check as you leave) and it isn’t normal to stay at a restaurant for very long. Leaving Spain made us miss Bilbao and helped us realize how much we love it there! Stay tuned for a recap of my weekend in San Sebastian!

Hasta luego!

xoxo Delaney