Park Guell is very high up in Barcelona looking down on the entire city straight to the coast. I would recommend taking a taxi up the hill unless you are ready for a bit of a hike. It is a very busy park and after two tries my friends and I realized that it is best to buy a ticket for a later time and come back for that time because only a certain number of people are allowed into the park itself at one time.
When we returned to the park for our time slot, we quickly learned that there is a huge free public picnic area surrounding the actual park. Our visit in the picnic area was a bit rushed, but I would suggest spending some time in there before entering the park area. It has some views that are better than those in the park, and the only downside if that there are street vendors everywhere, but that comes with the territory in a European city. Once we eventually found our way into the park itself, it was rather small, and I wished that we had more time in the picnic area. But the first thing you encounter is this amazing swerving mosaic bench that overlooks the entire Barcelona landscape and coastline. The bench is huge, and beautiful if you take the time to notice the designs and colors throughout. Just below the bench is an overhang with many huge columns and mosaic dome ceiling all in different colors and patterns. This overlooks two buildings that look like they were taken out of a Gingerbread house designed by Dr. Seuss, and I mean that in the best way possible. There are also a few fountains and mosaic animals in that area. Unfortunately that is all of the park that we explored, but both the park itself and the surrounding grounds are amazing.
Last weekend I visited one of my best friends in Dublin while she is studying abroad there. It felt like the tundra compared to Florence’s 90 degree days with roughly two clouds in the sky. Dublin was just as cold and damp as I had been told, but it was a refreshing change. On our way from the airport into the city I quickly noticed that all road signs and every single printed thing in public was written in two languages side by side. I was extremely interested to learn that it was in both English and Gaelic. Apparently people learn Gaelic in school similarly to how we learn a second language, and the signs being in both languages is their effort to keep tradition and the Irish history alive. One of our stops was the Dubhlinn Gardens, seeing that there is always so much rainfall the flowers and greenery flourish. The gardens were small, squeezed between a library and the Dublin Castle but there were plenty of people out enjoying a sunny day in Dublin. All of the little walkways, sculptures, wicker/wooden hobbit holes were perfect. Along with the multi-colored buildings across the street.
From there we walked over to Dublin Castle, which used to be the seat of the UK Government’s Administration of Ireland. We didn’t do the full tour but what we were able to see was mainly intricately decorated rooms, with images of famous people including Queen Elizabeth II. They also had a great view of the Dubhlinn Gardens and the castle courtyard. Many of the historical pieces had little cards on them that read “I am old and delicate. Please do not touch me” which was very amusing and inspired our guest book entry. A fair amount of places in Dublin had books for guests to sign, it was adorable. Many of the doors had super cool hidden key holes too.
Between shopping on O’Connell Street we stopped into the 1916 Easter Rising in St. Stephen’s Green Park. My friend explained it as the Central Park of Dublin, and it was beautiful. With all of the rain, and clearly some very diligent maintenance it was a great park. Dublin also had some of the most beautiful graffiti that I’ve ever seen, in America and Europe, you’ll be able to see all of that very soon!
I’m an avid fan of day trips, especially spontaneous ones with a lot of flexibility. We knew we would end up in Franklin, NY eventually, but the destination didn’t matter so much. Susan, her boyfriend Brendan, Lauren, and I turned a fifteen minute drive into a forty-five minute scenic cruise through the mountains, eventually stopping at the East Sidney Dam before returning to Franklin for dinner. We filled the day with car Pringles, Pokemon Go, and rock skipping; none of which you can see below, but I promise they all happened.
Friends and I arrived in Naples with absolutely no plan, which I firmly believe is the best way to travel when you don’t know much about where you’re going and have unlimited time. So we walked out of the train station and had absolutely no idea where to go, and in this situation I immediately turn to maps. So we started in the direction of the water, which appeared to be the main attraction of the city. It wasn’t the cleanest city I’ve been to by any stretch of the imagination, but there were surely redeeming qualities. After a grueling walk to the ocean, we stumbled up this staircase that led down to a little platform and the tiniest beach I’ve ever seen that the locals had inhabited.
Down on the platform there were children in water shoes catching minnows, very tanned women tanning even more, and too many speedos to count (classic European experience). There was a ton of broken glass in the only open section of water, but that didn’t stop us, and it was heavenly after the trek from the train station. Once our feet were sufficiently pruned, we were on a mission for some Neapolitan pizza, and that should be a simple task in the city deemed to have the best pizza. But the daily Italian version of siesta know as riposo always seems to fall when we’re in need of some Italian carbs. Luckily we found Attori e Spettatori, and the owners literally moved from where they were siting so we could sit down and get lunch. I got a Tricolore pizza with pesto, cheese and tomatoes and it was absolutely amazing and worth the walk. Naples might not be glamorous, but it is full of hidden fun locations and fantastic pizza.
The Boboli Gardens are located about 30 minutes from the Duomo and just ten minutes from my beloved Gusta Pizza. Entrance is 10 Euro but it is absolutely worth it if you appreciate nature whatsoever. It has trees, shrubs, flowers, statues, a pond, an amphitheater and many beautiful buildings. My friend and I spent hours inside exploring and working on our creative writing projects under a shady tree. It is also quite hilly so it can appeal to anyone who enjoys hiking or a beautiful view of Florence from above. We also met a stray cat who is photographed below, and we lovingly named him Goliath because Florence already has a famous David. I attempted to “pour one out for a homie” and give Goliath some water seeing that it is a sticky 90 degrees but he was a bit skittish. But the adventures ended on a good note because he returned to say goodbye and gave us a great Breakfast Club-esque walk off.
Places we've gone, things we've seen, stories worth telling