October 14, 2016

Europe 2015 Photo Diary

The Duomo, Firenze, Florence, ItalyDuring spring break of my senior year in high school, I took the trip of a lifetime with my best friends: two glorious weeks wandering around Europe. Our stops? Paris, Barcelona, the French Riviera, Pisa, Florence, Rome.

I remember wanting to start a blog before I left so that I could update family back home about my travels. Even when I first started this website, I wanted to be able to post all of my Europe photos but as time went by, they were put on the back-burner. Now that I had more time to sift through them, I rounded up my favorites to edit and share. Going through these photos, nostalgia kicked in and my heart yearned to go back to this beautiful place.

For the first three days, we spent all of our time in Paris. Our days were occupied with trips to the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles, sleepy metro rides, and lots of macarons. My friends and I had a small Parisian apartment to share (it was really a hotel room, but it was equipped like an actual apartment!). The bathroom was teeny tiny, two of us slept on the couch, and the neighbors complained about us laughing hysterically until the early morning. Seeing the Eiffel Tower checked off one of the biggest items on my bucket-list. Seeing it light up at the last minute before our cruise ended: priceless. Every day would be just as beautiful as the day before and I can truly say I didn’t want to leave.

Hotel De Ville in Paris, France River Cruise along the River Seine, Paris, France The Facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France Walking along the streets of Paris, France Red seats at a cafe along the streets of Paris, France River Cruise along the River Seine, Paris, France Buildings along the River Seine, Paris, France Palais de Justice, Paris, France Love Lock bridge in Paris, France Rose window exterior at the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France Outside the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France Moody window on a rainy day in Paris, France Enjoying coffee in Paris, France Streets of Versailles, France Inside the Louvre, Paris, France The Louvre, Paris, France Notre Dame Cathedral at night in Paris, FranceEiffel Tower, Paris, France

Our next stop: Barcelona. Honestly, my expectations were very high after Paris. I did not think I would enjoy Spain as much as I did. Most of our time there was shopping around, but I was introduced to the work of Antoni Gaudi, who is now one of my favorite artists. We visited Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia, both with vibrant architecture style. If you ever visit Barcelona, visit the Sagrada Familia. The massive cathedral is still in construction and is estimated to be done in 40-200 years!

Parc Guell by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain Parc Guell by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain Part of the Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain Parc Guell by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain The Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain

Traveling back to France, we spent the next days along the French Riviera. Nice, Carcassonne, Nimes, Monaco. I think I can speak for the rest of my friends when I say that Monaco was the dreamiest. Nice had beautiful blue waters and quaint streets, but Monaco’s colorful buildings were my favorite. Our day in Monaco started at the Prince’s Palace. We walked down stairs that ran along the cliffs towards a sweet farmer’s market; we bought a basket of strawberries and a couple of lemon tarts as we watched the most beautiful luxury cars race by.

Carcassonne in the French Riviera Waiting around in Arles, France Running along the tops of amphitheatres in Arles, France Roman amphitheatre in Arles, France Pont du Gard, South of France Running along the tops of Roman amphitheatres in Arles, France
Arles, FranceOutside the Pope's Palace, Avignon, France Inside the Pope's Palace, Avignon, France Arles, France Monte-Carlo, Monaco Monte-Carlo, Monaco Monte-Carlo lookout in Monaco Telescope in Monte-Carlo, Monaco

In Italy, we spent about a day at each of our stops. It was the end of the trip (so we were all tired) and one day wasn’t enough for Florence and Rome. Pisa is where I had my first Italian gelato, although I had plenty of gelato prior to Italy. The Leaning Tower was a sight, as it leans so much further than you think! Florence is at the top of my list to go back to in Italy. There were so many things I wanted to see that the tour didn’t take us to, but seeing the Duomo made up for it. Rome has the obvious tourist attractions (the Colosseum, the Forum), but I preferred the Vatican. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, 10/10 would recommend. Our last night was spent at the top of the Spanish Steps, watching the sunset and scaling down the steps to our final scoops of gelato.

Pisa Cathedral, Italy Inside the Pisa Cathedral, Italy Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy Baptistery and Cathedral in Pisa, Italy The Duomo, Firenze, Florence, Italy The Colosseum, Rome, ItalySunset in black and white over the Spanish Steps, Rome, ItalyInside St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City St. Peter's Baldachin, Vatican City Sunset over the Spanish steps, Rome, Italy

Coming back home felt surreal. Everything went by in the blink of an eye and I had fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Europe. To top it off, I experienced the whole thing with my best friends. This diary of sorts is my love letter to Europe, my love letter to my best friends, and my love letter to the best year of my life.