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And That’s a Wrap

Wow. Thailand’s beauty was absolutely incredible. The best part of Thailand was the fact that I fully got an authentic experience and grew an understanding of the drastically different culture. Not only is the country beautiful but it is also incredibly peaceful and the people are so welcoming. Despite having a language barrier I really felt welcome and comfortable there. 
Some highlights of the trip include experiencing a Thai fusion meal cooked by one of the best chefs, going to a Thai beer garden, going to he markets to experience the culture, visiting the magnificent temples, expanding my palate by trying new foods (including duck beak), and visiting up North to get a real taste of the beautiful nature of Thailand. 

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Wow, how truly blessed I am for the incredible journey I just took. Experiencing so many beautiful places with varying cultures really opened my eyes to the tremendous diversity this world has. 
Not only did this experience enrich my views and respect of other culture but it really allowed me to reflect and be thankful for my own. 
I want to thank everyone who made this dream a reality! I have the best family and friends in the world and I am so thankful. 
Anais, this was absolutely amazing and there is not other person I’d want to have taken this journey with. Thank you for giving me such an amazing taste of your cultures. Your family truly made me feel like family and I am so grateful. 
Missy and Aunt Kathy, thank you so much for making the first part of my journey so incredible. I really couldn’t have asked for a better start. I love you guys and I loved how we got to explore our ancestors home together. 
What a journey it has been. This was my first time going overseas like this, but I can certainly tell you it won’t be my last. I truly understand the meaning of wanderlust. It’s been real!

Vatican City 

Hey everyone! So sorry for the delay the jet lag has been unreal and every free moment I’ve had has been resting. 

So Day 3 of beautiful Roma! What a special day this was for me. After going to Catholic school for 12 years of my life I decided that it was a must to visit the most Catholic location in the world, Vatican City. 

We booked an early morning Vatican tour to ensure we would be able to see everything despite the crowds. Before we set off on our tour we indulged in a cappuccino and Italian pastries. I can honestly say that I can never drink American coffee the same. Cappuccinos in Italy are truly life changing. 

We had an amazing tour guide who really enriched us with the history. The beauty of the Vatican is life changing. My favorite part was the hallways leading up to the Sistine Capel and St. Peter’s Basilica. It was like a build up to even more beauty. 



I was extremely surprised at how small the Sistine Chapel was. My whole life I have envisioned it to be this large room! St. Peter’s was so intricate and honestly majestic. And yes of course I touched the feet for good luck!! 



The most important and satisfying part of this was that I was able to offer prayers for my family and friends in the place I have always dreamed of going. We followed the trip by enjoying paninis!

 

Later that day, after relaxing and taking some time to decompress, we decided that it was about time to eat some amazing gelato. This was the best thing I have eaten on the entire trip. 


I will never eat ice cream the same. Nothing will compare. 

We also spent some time walking around and exploring the city a bit more. We found the most adorable streets on our walk home. I definitely wouldn’t mind living here. 

Lastly, we made our way to a more contemporary Italian restaurant. It was delicious. It was absolutely packed with a mix of younger people as well as older Italians. We knew it had to be good!! 

So grateful for this day and to be in such a beautiful place! Stay in tune for more of our travels!!!

Day trip to Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius

Italy Day 2, program of the day: Pompeii and The Mount Versuvio

Our day started early with a departure to the Mount Vesuvius at 7:30am. We had book a day trip tour, which took us by bus to both the volcanos and the ruins of Pompeii. 

We took a 2:30 hours bus ride through the region of Lazio and Campania. We passed the second largest palace in Europe, as well as saw from far ruins of where gladiators used to train and where slaves were sold. The ride went by very fast, thanks to the beautiful scenery and the napping. Once we started driving up the Mount Vesuviu, we had a great look over the city of Naples. Our driver Antonio was definitely a lot more skilled than me. I have no idea how he manage to drive up that narrow road so well with a huge bus. We learned a lot of interesting and funny facts about the Neapolitan. Apparently, they are very easy-going people, who do not like to follow rules. Our guide said that they had the “it’s ok, whatever” attitude. 

The view driving up was gorgeous. We had on one side the sea and the islands and the volcano and mountains on the others. The bus stopped at about 200m from the top. We stretched our legs and power through the top without a break. The little road up was very slippery and we definitely almost fell few times. The way up was not easy, especially because we decided to go up sprinting (we were walking very fast), and our calves were burning, but we were going to give up. We made it up in less than 20 minutes.  


The view from the top was amazing. We could see all over the coast, and of course could peak inside the volcano, which if you didn’t know, is actually still active and could go off any time soon. It’s a bit surprising to think that people live knowing that the volcano can explode and completely destroy the city. We spent a bit of time up there, just admiring the scenery. We also grabbed some lava rocks as souvenirs. Apparently it’s good luck there. 


We, then made our way down , again, trying miserable not to slip. It was time for lunch! We went to a restaurant for the classic Neapolitan dish…Pizza!! We all got a margarita pizza which was delicious. One for each of course. 

Next stop was Pompeii. We met up with a local guide there and entered the ruins of the city. 

WOW! 

Visiting Pompeii was one of the most incredible experience. It was a lot bigger than we thought. It was an actual city, with everything. There were bathrooms, gyms, a shopping street with snack bars, brothels, houses, temples… The ruins were already mesmerizing, I can’t even imagine how beautiful it must have been before it was covered by ashes. Thinking about the fact that boats use to be the main transportation to get to Pompeii is also incredible. They had big rocks so that people could cross streets. A lot of the fresque were destroyed or taken, but the few we saw were still beautiful and so colorful. One of the popular artist at the time had a beautiful house with paintings over all the ways. Some of the floors also still had mosaics (the rich people’s home of course). 


Also, we saw a few plaster casts of people and a dog. They barely found any bodies because the heat made them all disappeared. What they found were rocks which the inside had taken the shape of the people. It was very sad to see each person last posture. We could really see them crawling, or trying to take a last breath of air. They was also one of a puppy. Our guide mentioned that barely animal could be found because they sensed the volcano activity way before and escaped, except for this one dog who was chained. 


Romans were such brilliant people. They lifestyle and hierarchy is already so similar to our society today (in terms of modernity, irrigation, etc). We were just blown away. 


Pompeii was simply an amazing experience and I would strongly recommend everyone to go. 

We made our way back to Rome, and again we’re all exhausted. We did a lot of walking and under the sun. We still went out for dinner and then all slept like baby. It was a great day. 

When in Rome

After a crazy last day in Barcelona, the first day in Rome definitely made it a lot better. 

We heard from many people that the only way to visit Rome was to walk around. That’s what we did. We left our apartment and arrive in center city Rome at around at 11am. Our apartment is actually just above the vatican. 

We started wandering the streets of this beautiful city. We were so amazed by all the monuments. We stopped every 100 meters to take pictures. There is so much history to Rome. 
Our first stop was the Trevi Fountain! A must of course. It was crowded with people but we managed to make our way to the front and threw in some coins for good luck 🙂 

   

We then continued walking and saw the Quirinal Palace, the Church of Saint Andrew, and the Altare de la Patria (National Monument). The inside of the Church was gorgeous. The fresque on the wall were mesmerizing. We later learned that roman churches were built with colons from older Ancient Rome. Rome is on point when it comes to recycling. 


The Altare de la Patria, which was built for the first King of the unified Italy, was one of our favorite more modern spot. It was so grandiose and really made a point of being the national monument. The view from up there was gorgeous too. 


Finally we made our way to the Colosseum, one of the seven wonders of the world. We joined a tour on site and entered the monument. When we arrived in front of the colosseum, we noticed a lot of firemen on the top floor. This was part of their training. They all started going down slowly, attached with cable. It was pretty cool to watch. Definitely a cool way to train. 

The inside of the Coliseum was impressive as well. We could still see the rooms where the gladiators would sleep in. Not sure anyone today would like such a small room without windows. It was very shocking to learn that more than 700,000 man have died there. Romans did have some unique hobbies. 


Our next stop was the Palatino Hills and Roman forum. Our tour guide Sarah was awesome. She was so fun and upbeat, which made the tour very enjoyable. We walked through a garden with many ruins (some types of apartments), and arrived at a view point over the Roman Forum. It was absolutely gorgeous. The history was pretty cool too. To honors the death of their wife or children, the husband would have a Temple built for them. Take note mom and dad, I don’t expect any less :). 

It was already 7pm when the personnel of the place told us to leave because it was closing. We had walked more than 10km and were ready to make our way home
But not yet. We had a reservation at a restaurant Michelle’s papi told us to go to, Ambasciatta D’abruzzo. It was very good and we had very yummy white wine from that area. After a good and filling dinner we made our way back and absolutely crashed. We had to be up early the next to go to Pompeii.

Arrivederci

The Series of Unfortunate Events: Tale of the Unlucky Hat

Disclaimer: You guys are in for a treat with this blog post.  
On Friday May 26th, Anais and I rose very tired from a long night but very eager to finally take on the next part of our journey, Rome. After waking up at 8 and arriving to the airport at 10 with plenty free time until our 12:30 flight. Anais and I felt that something just didn’t seem right. 

We were having a lot of trouble finding our flight and were blown away by the calm cool and collected behavior of those in the Barcelona airport. By 11:20 be noticed that our flight gate still had not showed up. Considering our flight was boarding at 11:50 we found this to be extremely odd. We decided we should definitely look it up. We quickly found a gate and realized that they were not set up and we became even more confused. At this point it was now 11:50 and we were getting really worried. 

This is when the day took a turn. I want you to keep in mind that Anais had purchased a straw hat at the boutique we shopped at the day before. Ever since we left that store, something was up especially after losing my debit card that night. 


Anais was wearing this hat because we weren’t able to fit it in or suitcase. Confused at what was going on we took a look at our tickets and realized that boarding was not at 11:50…… OUR FLUGHT WAS.  

We sprinted to the counter and realized that we were indeed idiots and that we did indeed miss our flight. Ugh. Trying to stay positive we collected our baggage and booked a flight for that night at 6pm. 

In the midst of the unfortunate events we decided to try and turn it around. The skipper from our sailing trip mentioned a beach in Barcelona with the most beautiful view. We were unable to fit this in our trip before the missed flight but we had a lot of time to spare before our next flight. Anais and I set out to this beach with high hopes that our day would get better. For a chunk of time it did get better, we enjoyed lunch and an absolutely incredible view. 



Unfortunately, the unfortunate events did not stop here. We decided that we should try and head back to the airport to ensure we didn’t not miss our second flight. Anais went to book a taxi and quickly realized that taxis did not come out to this area. We felt a sense of panic especially when we discovered that the bus commute would be over an hour. 

After asking a local woman to call us a taxi we once again felt a sense of hope. This was quickly squashed when we did not board the bus and realized that the taxi had cancelled. We were going to miss another flight!!!!!! We hoped on another bus in hopes that this could somehow get us there. We found that we had to take another bus from this one. 

Anais turned to me and explained that the hat just didn’t seem right. I told her you absolutely need to throw it out. Anais threw out the hat and BOOM we found a taxi that would arrive at the airport in 15 minutes. Our luck was restored. 

Despite our flight being delayed over an hour that night, by throwing out that dreadful hat we were able to make it to Rome. Anais’ mom and Natacha had authentic pasta and gelato waiting for us. It was just what we needed. Thank goodness for them! It had been a long day. 


I do not think I will ever look at a straw hat the same….. 

We had high hopes that Rome would be incredible despite our minor troubles. 

Up in the sky, far in the sea

Day 3 in Barcelona. 

Thanks to the culture of eating late, I can finally say that I know how to sleep in! Our day started at a usual 11:00am breakfast at Federal café. We had our much addicted to coffee and a croissant with some ham, cheese and veggies in it. Michelle found her perfect breakfast dish. 


Next stop was Montjuïc Park & Castle. We had a great workout walking up the hills and stairs to the park. My calves were burning (haven’t workout out in a while so we kept it very positive there). In order to climb to the Montjuïc Castle, we had to take a cable car (teleférico as they would say). The view up the hill was superb. It was also absolutely scorching hot so the breeze in the cable car was enjoyable. We arrived at the highest point of Barcelona, to this amazing old military fortress built in the 17th century. Unfortunately, we did not have tickets, so we had to content ourself to the view and the canons. It wasn’t too bad ;). It was a very different view from Park Guëll. We saw the sea and the industrial port side. 



After taking the teleférico back down, we went for some guilty pleasure, aka shopping at this really cute shop we spotted after breakfast. The clothes were so cute and cheap. So cheapppp!! Just like everything else in Barcelona I guess. 

We quickly went home to drop our stuff and headed to el Mercado de la Boquería. It was interesting. Lots of fruits and vegetable, seafood and jamón!!! We made a poor choice and got crepes. We were hungry and in a rush. It was a bit underwhelming. We also got strawberries covered with chocolat. That was good! 


Finally, after walking around for 30 minutes trying to find bathroom, which I believe public bathroom is not a thing here, we arrived at Port Vell for some sailing.

We hopped on a sailing boat with 2 couples and headed to the sea. It was a very fun and chill experience. It was crazy that as soon as we left the shore, the weather was immediately a lot cooler. The best part was that both Michelle and I got to control the boat for a bit. The trip lasted about 2 hours. It was awesome. 



Following the sailing, we went around the Barí Gotic to buy some souvenirs. Again, clothes are so cheap here (we didn’t buy any though, don’t worry mom). 


Again, we, very quickly adapting to the culture, went out to dinner at 10:30pm. We went to this cute Spanish restaurant “Miño” and ate some tapas (of course). I had a mojito de muras that was delicioussss!! 

After a good and filling dinner we went to meet up with friends at L’Ovella Negra. Played some darts, drank a bit, and again met such amazing people. The night then continued to another shot bar, where we got introduced to some very creative and fun shots (basically candy) and then to the club. (We’re gonna leave out the part where michelle realized she dropped her credit card somewhere)…

Eso es todo! Tomorrow last day in Barcelona. 

Barca!!!! 

Hola!!!!! 
What a day! Anais and I started off our day by having an amazing breakfast at Brunch & Cake. 


We then made our way to Sagrada Familia to take a tour and learn about some Spanish history. Anais and I have determined that Gaudi is our absolute favorite artist. The beauty of this cathedral cannot be articulated into words. The intricate details that were put into creating and building it are incredible. I have no idea how someone could design and build something like this. 


​After we made our way to Guell Park which was my favorite place in Barcelona. It was gorgeous and we found something unique around every corner. We even made a friend (a very cute dog) who followed us for quite some time. I was quite sad when we had to go our separate ways. 

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​We decided to make our way to a little sandwhich shop called Bo Do B after to grab a late lunch. This place is the talk of the town and everyone we know who has been to Barcelona recommended that we get it. It did not disappoint. 


Lastly, we made our to the beach to relax after walking around all day. This experience was absolutely amazing. After being asked to join a beach volleyball game we made friends with a group from Argentina, Barcelona and northern France. The most interesting part of this interaction was that we all spoke very little of each other’s language. We had the absolute best time with each other despite the language barrier. Such a cool traveling experience. 


We finished the day by eating some delicious traditional Spanish paella! Barcelona you are beautiful. 

Bon día Barcelona

We made it to Barcelona people!! Woke up ‪Tuesday morning at 4:50am‬ to catch our CDG->BCN flight. We did absolutely pass out during the flight. Didn’t even wait to take off. We arrived in Barcelona ‪at 9:30 am‬, but unfortunately we were not able to check-in our Airbnb before ‪2pm‬. We waited a bit before going to Caravelle for breakfast. We stayed there for a solid 3 hours, completely overstaying our welcome. They were nice enough to not kick us out. The place definitely started to feel like home.


‪At 2pm‬ sharp we were in front of our Airbnb and ready to unpack our bags. After quickly changing, it was time to explore. 

We made our way to the Bari Gotic, and hanged around there for a while. The neighborhood is incredible. The buildings are beautiful, and the streets are very cute, and full of History. It’s funny how every apartments have clothes hanging out of their windows. We also passed a cute market selling antiques. Tons of old and vintage stuff. Had to control myself not to buy something. 


We continued walking and made our way to the port. Trust me, we were very excited to see water. The breeze and the smell of the sea was very refreshing. It was ‪around 3pm‬ when we started to get a bit hungry. You’ll notice in other blog posts that we are already adapting to the Spaniard dining time table. We found this cute restaurant near the beach called Surf House Shop Ordered delicious tacos and of course sangria. Definitely my favorite drink. 


The weather was amazing as well, which made everything a little better. 

After lunch, we continued walking around a little, and found our way back to our apartment. Thank god for GPS. Compared to Philadelphia, the organization of the street here is absolutely chaotic.

We took a quick nap (well I did) and got ready for the third part of the day, aka the night. We went to dinner to a place recommended by one of Michelle’s friend, Ciudat Condal. The place was packed and the wait was about an hour long. Luckily we were hanging out by the bar and were able to grab seat by the counter very quickly. Very clutch of us. 

They had so many tapas options. We had no idea what to get. We were randomly pointing at dishes we wanted and looking over what other people ordered. We started of with the paella (yummy), then some grilled shrimps, which Michelle did not want to peel haha, and finally ordered some patates fritas (yummy too). Oh! We got dessert too. A piece of Cake. No idea what it is called. 


After stuffing ourself with delicious food, we walked to a bar L’Ovella Negra, courtesy of our Temple made friends. The bar was cute and rustic… and cheap. They was a pool table, a baby-foot and darts. We went with the darts option. After 10 minutes of figuring out how the scoring work, we started to get competitive. It was fun and we surprised ourselves a little. 


Since it is not summer yet for most Europeans, we met many Americans. We even made friends! 🙂 ‪At around 1:10am‬ we made our way to a club “Sala Apolo” for Crappy Tuesday (the version of thirsty Thursday I guess). People go out so late here, definitely a lifetime I’m not sure grandma me could get used of. 

The rest of the night was so much fun. We danced our butts off ‪till 4am‬. The club wasn’t too crowded as it could be on weekends and the music was very fun and different. There was a mix of rock, hip-hop and EDM music. Apart from it being impossible to get a drink at the bar, I really enjoyed this first night in Barcelona. Muy Bueno!

Haste luegooo

AMAZING Paris

Well today I finally realized that I am indeed a fan girl. Despite being extremely jet lagged, Anais motivated me to push through. First stop of the day was the iconic Eiffel Tower. Holy smokes….. I was excited to see it. It was one of those things I’ve always seen in movies but could never actually picture myself being in the presence of. 

It was my turn to motivate Anais. Despite being afraid of heights I convinced her to make the journey up the Eiffel Tower. I really don’t want to jinx myself here but the weather on this trip has been incredible. It was almost as if the Eiffel Tower was showing off for us.

 Look at this photo and you be the judge. 


After the Eiffel Tower, we went to grab a crepe! I had to have one before I left and it was “delicious” as my mom would say. 


Next, Anais’ sister Natacha made a plan for us to go to an “escape the room” type of activity at the Lock Academy in Paris. Being extremely competitive people Anais and I decided that is we did not solve the crime the rest of the day would be ruined. Thanks to our brilliant minds we were able to solve the mystery and enjoy the rest of our day. 


We then made our way over to the Louvre because it was absolutely necessary for me to see all this hype about that lady Mona Lisa. It was very cool to be in her presence but I was very shocked at how small the painting actually was. Trying to get to the front of the large group was not an easy task. I was almost taken out. Thanks to Anais’ moms encouragement to push through, I made it. The artwork and design on the Louvre itself was extraordinary. 


We then decided to do some shopping. Sorry Mom and dad, I did some damage. When in Rome, I mean Paris. The shopping here is just too good to resist. 

To conclude the night, Anais, Natacha, and their mom and I made our way to have an authentic French meal. This completely blew me away. Natacha noted that it was so funny how intrigued and excited I am over everything. Like I said I’m a massive fan girl. It was traditional food from a region in France near the Alpes called La Savoie. Since people live in the montains and it gets really cold, the food is particularly heavy. The meal consisted of a lot of cheese, potatoes and meat. We accompanied the meal with a French Cider. 

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​What a way to end my trip to Paris. It was AMAZING (sorry guys it’s an inside joke)!!! 

Now off to Barcelona!!!!!!

Kids at Heart ❤️

Sunday was a huge throwback to childhood, or more like the 19th century. 

After picking up Michelle at the airport, we went to this most Amazing private museum called “Musée des Arts Forains.” Translation: Museum of Fairground art. It was absolutely mind blowing. I felt like I was traveling to ‪Alice in Wonderland‬. 

There was all kind of objects, decorations, attractions, and games. There was a totalof 3 rooms, each included a game room and a ball room. Words cannot describe how beautiful and absurd the decor was. We saw it all from unicorns to Thomas Jefferson and carousels.


The best part was that we even got to play and participate in some of the antique games. One of them was a horse race game, which represented the Venice horse race – The Palio di Siena. It is a race with no rules. The goal is to come in first and not second. Each horse represent a neighborhood, and the horse than came is second was considered the looser and had to pay for food and drink to everyone.


We all played, as competitive as we are, you can imagine it was intense. I actually came it first, I knew I should have played a different sport, roll a ball horse race is my calling. And guess who came in second? MY MOM!! We made sure she got us rounds of food and drinks, don’t worry. Rules are rules.

In addition to hoping on two authentic carousels, we got to go on this most amazing 100% mechanical bicycle carousel. We all had to pedal at the same time to make the platform turn. It was so much fun, and we were going pretty fast. I couldn’t keep up. 


It was simply a fun and dreamy place, I loved it.
After a 2 hours visit, we unfortunately had to wake up from this dream. We walked along La Seine river to arrive at the famous Cathedral de Notre Dame. I forgot how big and beautiful is it. The details are incredible. We didn’t stay for too long and our exhaustion made us quickly want to go home. We did make a quick stop at a Jewish factory and “Snacked” on some Latkes, and spinach quiche… it was yummy.


Finally, to end the night, my sister’s friend Brandon managed to convince my mom and us to go out for a drink. We randomly went to this cute bar/restaurant called “Mermaids and Divers.” It was all decorated with wood and ropes. Felt just as if we were on a boat. Had some delicious cocktails, fries and other snacks. By the end of the night, we were absolutely pooped and went home to sleep. It was a great day.