a look back

A complete list of all the places I was able to visit during my study abroad:

Austria:

Mondsee, Salzburg & Vienna

Belgium:

Brussels

Czech Republic:

Prague

England:

Bath, Harrogate, Ilkley, Leeds, London (4x), Liverpool, Scarborough, Sheffield, Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon & York (2x)

France:

Paris (2x)

Germany:

Berlin

Greece:

Aegina, Athens, Hydra & Poros

Hungary:

Budapest

Italy:

Cinque Terre (Vernazza & Monterosso) Florence, Milan, Pisa, Rome & Venice

Ireland:

Dublin & Galway (Cliffs of Moher)

Luxembourg:

Luxembourg City

Netherlands:

Amsterdam

Poland:

Auschwitz, Birkenau & Krakow

Scotland:

Edinburgh

Switzerland:

Zurich

Vatican City

Wales:

Conwy

I wasn’t able to make it to Spain or Portugal so I’m looking forward to making that my next trip across the Atlantic. And later this week I’m going to be doing a reflection post on the whole ‘study abroad’ experience so it should get pretty deep, lol.

Cheers.

~meesh

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wale watching

So Wales, was my very last trip :(. But it definitely wasn’t least. I had really no idea what to expect from Wales as i had to decided to go last minuter after another trip had fallen through.

after getting off the train and heading towards town I was shocked when all of the sudden there was this beautiful castle in front of us. It was so intact and I just didn’t expect this castle to be in Wales. But I’m so glad is was. The town we went to, Conwy, was a quaint little town on the coast it was very serene.

You could see all the rolling hills in the background that were just lovely. We sat down for some tea where i had my very last cream tea before heading back to the states. It was so bittersweet, but I’ll be back someday. Then we walked around the town enjoying all of the buildings and little shops.

We headed towards the water and on the way got to see Great Britain’s smallest house, which was super cute, but we didn’t go in. We sat by the water for a while and I made friends with one of the dogs nearby, it was a nice day out so there was a lot of people out and it was a nice atmosphere to be in.

Then we walked around the town a bit more before settling down on a nice bench to enjoy the weather and a view a bit more before heading back to make are train. After that we picked up some dinner to go. For future reference the ASDA Icebox is all frozen foods. I got really thrown off there.

Anyways, Wales was beautiful and I’m so glad I had the chance to go. It was the perfect last day trip to end my study abroad. Now I’m back home and that’s cool too I guess…so we will see what summer has in store for me!

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~meesh

pics here

the beauty in budapest

To get to Budapest this time around we decided to a take a legit night train. It was a total of ten hours and we slept in a couchette. Basically it was like 3 couch bed, stacked on each side like bunk beds. Lucky for me I got to take on of the very top beds, which was fine when I was laying down but you couldn’t sit up straight because of the ceiling so it was an intense hunch that was very uncomfortable.

Even still, I’m glad we got to experience it, it was kind of fun actually, to know you were sleeping on a moving train and woke up not only in a different city but in a different country. And it definitely didn’t feel like it took ten hours so I’d say it was a success.

We got into Budapest well rested and drop our bags at the Airbnb, which again worked out lovely. After freshening up we headed out to see the city. We grab lunch at some place nearby…it said traditional Hungarian food, but who knows. Then we stopped at the market, which was incredible. The first floor was like a grocery store and the second floor was everything from souvenirs to clothes and accessories. The whole thing was open too.

Afterwards we spent the rest of the day walking the city. When we turned the corner to walk along the river I was in shock because I did not expect to see this beautiful mountain and all these ornate buildings visible in the distance. I was taken aback by the beauty I found around every corner in Budapest.

It truly was a most beautiful city and because we only had the day we didn’t get a chance to see everything and didn’t get a chance to check out the famous baths either, so I will definitely be returning at some point in life.

Even though Hungary is a second world country, when you’re in Budapest you don’t get that vibe, in fact instead it seems like a very royal place with all the incredible architecture that can be found.

I should also mention that we had been planning all along to get fish pedicures in Budapest. We just decided that that was the place we wanted to get them done. Now, I am deathly afraid of fish, my phobia goes back a long ways but I do not like them and the thought of them touching me…..but I told myself that it was time I face my fears so I said I would do it.

When we got there, they couldn’t take us all at the same time, and so I obviously opted not to go first because I wanted to see what it would be like first. Omg the way those fish attacked their feet I was like hell no. So I didn’t do it because there was and is no way I’m about to watch fish eat me. Sorry not sorry but I’m not about that.

Call me a loser, a wimp or whatever you’d like really….maybe one day I’ll finally face my fear but the day in Budapest was just not that day.

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Cheers.

~meesh

P.S. Only one travel post left to go :/

pics here

a loss for words

I have to apologize because once I got back into the states things got really crazy, and I just didn’t have time to get these last few travel posts in right away. But, I’m finally starting to get into somewhat of a regular routine so I promise this week, I WILL finish up my travel posts. Also, this post was supposed to go up yesterday but since the storms were so bad our internet was out. :/

So then, my last ‘big’ trip of the semester was to Poland and Budapest. Poland was first up and we conveniently left for our flight the morning after my flat mate’s 21st birthday celebrations…lol I didn’t keep my eyes open for more than 5 minutes during the entire flight. All of us were beat, but we made it.

In Krakow we decided to go with an Airbnb instead of a hostel and boy was it nice. We had this studio apartment all to ourselves, it was great…I kind of really wished we had did the whole Airbnb sooner but…oh well.

I won’t lie but after we had some pierogis for lunch we spent much of the afternoon and early evening napping as we hadn’t fully recovered from the lack of sleep the night before. So basically we got there, ate, napped, ate again and when back to bed.

It’s really fine because the next day we saw it all. The first half of the day was spent at Auschwitz, which was the number 1 on my bucket list for study abroad (I didn’t think I was going to get the chance to go on this trip so I was glad to be able to make it work).

It’s really interesting because people ask me how it was and, for me to say it was incredible seems weird because I don’t associate the word incredible with something that is so somber. It’s extremely difficult to put into words what the experience was like. The piles of hair, of luggage, of shoes both of children and adults it’s just…writing this even now I can’t seem to find the right words.

In the simplest terms,…It made me sick, it made me scared and it made me sad. But it was worth it. I don’t really want to go into it that much more because everyone has their own individual experience and it’s something I want to keep to myself.

But, anyways we got back into Krakow and decided to do a free afternoon walking tour because we hadn’t really seen anything the day before. And let me just say here that Krakow is stunning. It is so beautiful and so so so clean, like we talked about how clean it was multiple times. And I was really surprised by this; I didn’t expect Poland to be as beautiful as it was.

The city center is surrounded by pedestrian streets making it easy to leisurely walk around. And as per usual the tour offered us good insight into the city’s history. Although, our tour guide talked a little too much I can’t complain because it was free and I learned a thing or two.

I’d have to say Poland is up there on my list of favorites. If you ever get the chance, go, not only to visit Auschwitz but to appreciate the beauty and rich history of its cities.

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Cheers.

~meesh

Pics here

touring with the fam

A couple of weeks ago my family was able to come a visit me. After a having a proper cry upon seeing them for the first time in months I was excited to show them around my stomping grounds. We had a pretty jam packed schedule so like Italy, I’ll just summarize each place.

PARIS

We started with a weekend in Paris and boy what a weekend it was. We enjoyed crepes next to the Eiffel Tower and even got to go to the top, took a boat cruise along the river Seine, went inside the Notre Dame and just enjoyed the life in city. Were we shocked at how full of life the city was after dark, people grabbing dinner around 10pm and just casually out strolling the streets. If only we could take a weekend getaway to Paris whenever we wanted…


            

   LONDON

Our first day in London happen to be VE Day (Victory Europe) so after I showed the fam around Oxford and Piccadilly Circus, China Town, Covent Garden, Trafalgar and Leicester Square we headed towards parliament and ran right into the parade. And we stay to watch because we were stuck and were told the Queen would be coming round and duh, we wanted to see her. She didn’t end up coming :(, but we got to see lots of cute Veterans, which I enjoyed. Other than that we pretty much hit all the major stuff, Big Ben, the Eye, Tower of London, Westminster, Harrods, Hyde Park….the list goes on and on. But instead of going to see a show at Piccadilly we decided to do a Jack the Ripper Tour instead…and it was well worth it. Our guide Barney, a Beefeater, was engaging and knowledgeable and it was nice intimate group. I think my family would agree with me when I say that was one of our favorite things we did in London. If you ever go to London I’ll gladly give you the info for the tour.


                           STRATFORD UPON AVON

Stratford was a typical quaint English village and happens to also be the home of Shakespeare. We got to tour his house and gardens and it’s crazy how well preserved his house is today. They also gave us free scones and sparkling wine, so that obviously made the experience better. I think we all enjoyed the visit and it was really the first time my family got to see a true English town.


       BATH

Bath blew me away with it’s beauty. I almost wish I had considered studying abroad in Bath becasue it really was that beautiful. All the buildings are made with stone from bath and it’s set on a hill so the views are incredible. While there we got to tour the Roman Baths and enjoy some true Cornish Pasties. I think we all wished we got to spend a bit more time there and agreed we would when we come back.


            

STONEHENGE

Stonehenge was interesting. To be honest it was kind of creepy. They are just the big and tall stones set up in a specific way but no one really knows why…and then in all the land surrounding the stones there are these human burial grounds that form little hills, so you basically know you are surrounded by dead people. I’m really glad I got to experience it and looking back I still don’t really know how I feel about it.


         EDINBURGH

I might dare to say that I liked Scotland better than Ireland…Edinburgh was so beautiful, the views were incredible from every angle. We got to check out Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish Crown Jewels, walk the royal mile and taste about every free sample of whiskey there was. We also took a hike up a cliff, but didn’t got too far as we weren’t properly equipped and we are old and out of shape. It’d seemed there were bagpipes being played everywhere and I couldn’t have asked for a more lovely day in Scotland with my family.


                

SCARBOROUGH

Scarborough is on the East coast of the country and it’s a place that definitely comes to life in the summer. With it’s long stretch of beach, and arcades full of carnival games it is pretty much a child’s paradise. Nonetheless it was still lovely to walk along the beach and enjoy the seaside smell. It was quite refreshing actually. It was the perfect way to spend our second to last mornign together.


       YORK

York is your typical medieval English town. The city walls are almost still fully in tact and the shambles are so picturesque. We got to enjoy a proper high tea at Betty’s, the best in Yorkshire, and then enjoyed walking down all the pedestrian streets looking through the windows into the cute little shops. It was also race day in York so while relaxing for a bit before out tour we encountered many people in really good ‘moods’ and all had a laugh at that.


                 Writing this post makes me miss my time with my family but it’s a good thing I return home in about 2 days.

Cheers.

~meesh

P.S. I’ve got about 3 more travel posts to go

italy plus vatican city

MILAN

Milan was super urban I loved it. Not only did we get to attend mass at the Duomo we also got to hang out in the park behind the castle with all the locals. There were these dogs chasing ducks around in the pond there and it was so adorable. Also huge shoutout to my friend Allison for giving us an awesome suggestion for where to eat. Oscar’s was delicious and everything we’d expected an Italian restaurant in Italy to be.


             VENICE

Venice was breath taking. Around ever corner was either a stunning view or a dead end, lol. Our gondola ride was everything you’d expect it to be, although I wish our driver (not sure what you call them…) sang to us. I thought them singing was supposed to be a thing. Guess not. Also, the city is full of mas vendors and the masks are exquisite. It was a city full of life even after dark and I loved every minute of it.


           FLORENCE

Florence was my least favorite city in Italy. It was the one place I did not fell safe or comfortable. Don’t get me wrong it’s a beautiful place with some great vantage points for views of the city but that doesn’t make up for the fact that you couldn’t walk down a street without bumping into someone at least 10 times. I almost broke down and had a panic attack becasue it made me so nervous. But, we did enjoy one of our favorite meals of Italy there and the leather goods were top notch. So it wasn’t all that bad. Just not the city for me.


                 PISA

Pisa and the leaning tower of Pisa is pretty much everything you’d expect it to be. Seeing the tower in person it looks exactly as it does in photographs. Unlike the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben which pictures can’t accurate capture, the with the leaning tower of Pisa, what you see in pictures is what you get. Still a cool thing to have been able to see in person though.


   CINQUE TERRE

The two towns we visited in the Cinque Terre region blew me away. Monterosso and Vernazza were everything you’d expect an Italian coastal city to be. Breathtaking views, beaches and brightly colored buildings. We got to hike from Monterosso to Vernazza and at the beginning it was like climbing the stairs to heaven. At least that’s what it felt like becasue there were so many. But once we got up to the trail the views were unreal. The stairs were definitely worth it for the views. One day I’d like to go back and hike all five villages becasue it was that beautiful. The hike was probably one of the top activities we did on the trip. And it was nice to dangle our feet in the water once we reached Vernazza.


                       ROME

Rome was kind of a big let down. And not just becasue the Trevi Fountain was under construction (I don’t even want to talk about it much less think about it). I guess in comparison to the other places we’d seen in Italy leading up to it Rome just didn’t do it. I mean the Colosseum was cool as was the Parthenon but other than that it was just ok. I really like hanging out on the Spanish steps and the Piazza Navona was probably my favorite place as it was full of artists and performers and just life in general…but I guess at that point we were all pretty much ready to get back to Leeds.


              

      

VATICAN CITY

Seeing the Basilica and the Sistine Chapel was cool. The city is a pretty massive place and I would have liked to explore it more…and also it would have been nice to see the Pope. But I’ll live. There’s this great shop there run by the nuns that sells a million different religious things that I quite enjoyed. Overall it’s a nice place.


                   Cheers.

~meesh

P.S. If you click the city names it will take you to all the photos.

sleepless in zurich

So if you read the last post then you know that the train ride to Zurich sucked pretty bad. We boarded the train at 2:30am and that got us into Zurich at around 8:00am. Because we’d already been up half the night waiting for the train, we didn’t get much sleep once we got on the train either. And by the time we arrive in Zurich we were going on about >2 hours of sleep. The only redeeming thing about the ride was that the views were absolutely stunning. The mountains we were riding through were so picturesque.

But anyways, we got into Zurich and becasue it was fairly early in the morning we couldn’t check into our hostel yet. So that meant no sleep for us anytime soon. Instead we opted to keep ourselves awake and do a free walking tour of the city (we even got a free brownie for doing the tour). Lucky for us the city isn’t super big so it didn’t tire us out too much more. And the tour was really great. Zurich is such a beautiful place and the people there were so classy. Literally everyone was dressed to the 9s and I loved it. There were also a ton of pregnant woman….seriously every other woman we passed was pregnant. Must be a good place to raise a family….I’d totally live their one day it was so perfect.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the lake and enjoying the weather and the sun. And we also picked up some Swiss chocolate..it was just alright…seems I’m a Cadbury girl now. And becasue everything is so expensive there, we decided just to go big with our dinner regardless of price. I think we had some traditional stuff. It was good.

Finally we could go and get some rest after a very long day, but since they were having some sort of festival when we were there, they had multiple bands marching through the streets making it very loud. I know if kept the other girls up for a while but I had my earplugs so I didn’t have too much trouble falling asleep.

The next morning before we headed for Italy we decided to treat ourselves one last time to the best Hot Chocolate in the city. And oh my god was it incredible. It was like liquid gold. And I think in that one cup our trip to Zurich/Switzerland could be summed up: expensive, yet left me wanting so much more…


                     Cheers.

~meesh

Pics here