After arriving in the Bay last week, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I’d be around for Pride. I had no idea what to expect but the festivities far exceeded any expectations. Never have I witnessed an event captivate a community like Pride. Local business, large corporations, organizations and even celebrities (Oh hey OITNB!) put together extravagant displays to show their support in the parade. Families of all ages lined the streets to watch the beautiful displays of love pass by. I mean, how cool is that? Can you imagine growing up in the middle of such a powerful human right’s movement? I left so inspired by my new community and their contagious passion for change.
Large family, 1 boat, 7 days. Recipe for disaster? We may have had our doubts in the beginning, but the trip proved to be one of the best family vacations yet. Each day, was a new water to sail with a new isle to explore. With over 60 islands in reach there was never a shortage of things to do.
We geocached for treasure, snorkeled reefs and did some of the most beautiful scuba divining I’ve ever seen. A major highlight was diving the Rhone, a world famous shipwreck that went down in 1867. At night we switched off between cooking on the boat and dining on the islands. Each restaurant we’d take turns ordering a “pain killer”, the trademark BVI drink. Turns out, the best ones came from our very own captain!
My last hurrah before ending this incredible semester abroad. To be honest, I didn’t’ have high expectations for the city. From my experience, people have a strict love/hate relationship with the Parisian culture and I was ready for the latter. But upon arrival, I fell in love with the late night cafes and French lifestyle. Although much of the city was alluringly over-the-top (ahem, Versailles), the Parisian’s effortless spirit created the most charming atmosphere.
On our first morning we traveled to Versailles and paid our dues as weekend tourists. The ornate walls, gardens, glistening chandeliers, banisters, gates, plated gold details—no words can do it all justice.
Later we headed to Notre Dame and the infamous lovelock bridge. The cathedral, famous for it’s stunning stained glass didn’t disappoint. The lovelock was a sight as couples eternalized their love on the bridge. We settled down in the park nearby with some fresh Laudree Macrons, a classic bottle of wine and baguette. The accordion player in the background was an added bonus!
The next day I ventured to the Louvre for an afternoon of Italian Renaissance and Egyptian artifacts. Not before sunbathing next to the beautiful fountain outside for a bit though.
That night we made out way to the Eiffel tower for part du of our picnic day. As we finished our wine and baguettes, we watched the shimmering eiffel tower show. What a night indeed.
Oh Paris, you didn’t disappoint
Italy will always have soft spot in my heart. After an adventure-filled week in Croatia, I was ecstatic for a relaxing stay in Sicily. I met up with my friend Jami in Rome, where we explored for a day before jumping on the night train to Sicily. Although night trains normally have a bad rep, we had a wonderful experience and one I’d suggest to everyone. I mean, when else do you get to wake up to breakfast in bed in the view of the Italian countryside?
We stayed in On the Way Hostel for our first few nights where the adorable owners baked us fresh breakfast every morning. We spent these days exploring Palermo and nearby areas. We visited the botanical gardens where we had so much fun swinging on vines and smelling flowers. The local markets were bustling with fruit, meat, pastry and vegetable vendors. The GIANT 6 foot swordfish lying on the tables never failed to startle me.
Monday morning we got a rental car and moved into the flat we rented on the outskirts of the city. Having a car made all the difference on the trip. The next day we woke up first thing and drove to Taormina, on the other side of Sicily where I got to do a shipwreck dive. We explored the adorable shops and made a day adventure of exploring nearby cities. Taormina’s colourful shops, rolling hills and beautiful ocean had just the charm we were looking for.
The next day we found my ancestral village of Lecara Friddi, tucked away in the mountains. We spent a few hours in the city talking to locals, taking pictures and exploring its charm. Afterwards, we threw out our plans and drove to explore.
After a few hours we ended up in an old, abandoned village in a valley. It was suuuuper creepy but there were beautiful horses guarding to keep us company. Jami and I both love photography so the day was filled with cool opportunities to shoot.
All in all, the trip was incredible. Though we had our fair share of obstacles in the beginning of the trip, we had so much making the most of Sicilian culture. Until next time Italy.
Visiting Croatia’s been on my bucket list for some time now, and saw my Spring Break as the perfect chance to experience it. When my friend Joe shared the same interest, we booked our tickets and the rest was history. When I arrived in Split I didn’t know what to expect. Though April is the start of spring weather, the country’s high season doesn’t pick up until May. Nonetheless, the unique Dalmatian landscape of caves, mountains, beaches and cities offered plenty to do!
We spent our first few days island hopping on Brac and Hvar where the pebble beaches met the stunning turquoise water of the Adriatic Sea. We met some Spanish travelers and a group of friends on both rides who made great company both days. Besides our new friends, very few visitors (and restaurants) were around so we made the most of the wonderful weather and lounged on the beach.
Joe and I rented a car in the early morning so we could drive to Plitvice National Park. Despite the weather in Split, as we drove through the mountains it started to snow. We were so scared we wouldn’t survive the 6-mile hike in our ill prepared shorts and T-shirts. Luckily, the snow stopped once we arrived and we were able to enjoy the stunning waterfalls.The Croatian people were incredible too. When I pictured Eastern Europe I imagined very traditional society filled with foreign lingo and few tourists. Boy was I wrong to judge! Everyone I met genuinely wanted to help me enjoy their country to the fullest.
On our last day we headed south to Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik’s tourist industry has exploded since becoming a major filming spot for Game of Thrones. The city’s old town is encased in a thick wall that allows visitors to walk around they city and get a unique perspective on the town. Though we were only there for a day it was easy to see it’s charm.
Overall, Croatia was a huge success. I met some incredible people and was reminded once again how great the power of travel is.