Weeks Eight & Nine in London

First, allow me to give you quick summary of Week Eight before I jump into tales of my fall break adventures in Week Nine. Most importantly, I survived midterms! I pulled my dusty cramming abilities off of the shelf and managed not to lose too much sleep feverishly preparing in the days before exam time. Now I’ll be on to essaying, as several important due dates are coming up in November. On a much more exciting note, on Wednesday the 17th, I had the most amazing opportunity to see Ed Sheeran in concert. I haven’t always been a huge fan of this fabulous artist, but I was sold after Meg showed me this. Ever since, I have been playing his music nonstop and when the opportunity arose for me to see him over here, I couldn’t resist. It was, without a doubt, one of the greatest performances that I think I will ever see. It affirmed my love of his work, and I only hope I can see him in concert again at some point. Now, on to Week Nine’s fall break adventures –

At 3:00 a.m. on Friday, I awoke from an all-too-tiny slumber and headed to the airport to catch a 7:00 a.m. flight to Barcelona. After we settled comfortably into our hostel, we ventured out for dinner and drinks and then hit the hay early to prepare for a busy day of sightseeing. The warm sunshine and palm tree lined streets were a wonderful hiatus from the London weather we had left behind. First, we headed to the Sagrada Família. Construction on this magnificent Roman Catholic Church started in 1882, and still continues today. A breathtaking mixture of centuries of architecture, composition and scrupulous attention to detail, the church was fascinating to me. Second on my list of favorite sights in Barcelona is the Castell de Montjuïc. The view from this fortress at the top of the massive hill supplied a breezy look at the Mediterranean harbor on one side, and the vast city on the other. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day, and the whole experience was wonderful. Finally, thanks to a great recommendation from Addison, who studied in Barcelona this past summer, we set out that evening to experience the infamous Barcelona nightlife at Opium. This restaurant-bar-disco was amazing. Located literally on the beach, it was complete with a massive dance floor, several bars and seating areas, upbeat disco tunes and my favorite – a fondue machine and fruit. It was very clear – the residents of Barcelona really do know how to party. After one last lazy day on the beach, we hopped on a plane to Athens on Tuesday.

There, our hostel was located in the very heart of the city – the square was just moments away, filled with graffiti covered walls, stray dogs, pigeons, break-dancers, musicians, and vendors of all different kinds. I had never seen anything like it. Moreover, from the roof of our hostel, we had an incredible view of the Acropolis, such a historically fascinating monument that I had never dreamed of seeing in person. The actual climb to the top was far less strenuous than it appeared from a distance, and as I walked across the ancient rocks and looked over the city of Athens, it was amazing to think about society’s amazing progression and to wonder what it would have been like in Athens thousands of years ago. The most incredible part of my entire fall break experience landed on our very last day in Greece. Our hostel offered a sailing and island day trip to any of its tenants, and for a very reasonable price we set off with a cheery captain and his skipper at 9:00 a.m. on Friday. I have been to the ocean on two other occasions in my life. The first, I was far too young to remember; the second was in January and this already frigid experience was taken to a new level when I dropped my very first phone into the freezing water. In contrast, jumping into the warm, salty water of the Aegean Sea last week was groundbreaking for me as a landlocked Midwesterner. It really was magical and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. After spending time on the island and enjoying a delicious traditional Greek lunch, we headed back to the boat and set off for the port. I watched the sunset at sea and even got to sail the boat for a little bit. The general consensus was that sailing is not my forte, but I enjoyed every second of it nonetheless.

Despite all of these amazing adventures, I was happy to board the plane for London on Saturday afternoon. Reunion with Meg, who traveled to Prague and Ireland, as well as Amelia and Dana who ventured to Ibiza is fabulous; it feels good to be home. As we sat rehashing our travels and telling stories on Sunday, we came to an interesting conclusion that each city we visited has its own feel or mood, if you will. It was fascinating to literally feel the culture reflecting off of the city and to ponder a completely different way of life as an outsider.

Despite these wonders and the comfort of my life in London, nothing beats being truly home with my loved ones in the United States. Now, on the other side of this semester in London, the final weeks will fly by and I’ll continue to keep you updated until my bittersweet return in December. As always, thanks for reading!

xoxo,
Sarah

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