Well, the past few weeks/weekends have been incredibly busy. I was able to travel to Morocco, Paris, and Rome! All three of these places were incredibly amazing and I don´t even know where to begin describing them to you. I suppose we could just start from the beginning.
We flew into Morocco with a big group of students on Friday morning. Most people would say that it is a lot safer to go with a big group as it is a country in Africa. We flew into the Tangier airport to a welcoming sunny day. The city was right on the beach, about 9 miles from Spain. From the beach, you were able to see right across to the Straight of Gibraltar (which is actually UK owned), and Cadiz, the city that I visited in Spain for Carnaval. The point at which the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean was also clearly visible, you could tell by the tints within the waters. We then proceeded to a Cave which is said to be the cave of the mythological Hercules. He was said to reside in this place and slept here before his twelve labors which supposedly granted him immortality. It is also said that he created the entire city of Tangier and the Straight of Gibraltar with one blow of a sword. In this cave is also a hole in the shape of the African continent which is there completely naturally. I have some beautiful pictures of this place. We then went on to ride camels! Although this sounds like an extravagant experience, the best part of it is being able to say that I was able to ride a real camel. I felt that the owners of the camels were not treating them very well, but that is how they make a living. Tourism is one of the biggest factors in the economy of Morocco. After this we went back to our beautiful hotel to rest up before a traditional Moroccan dinner. We were guided back by Mustafa the tour guide, and he explained that the hotel we were in had parts of Casablanca filmed in it. We also stepped into a café where Matt Damon had filmed parts of the Bourne Identity films. The meal was incredible. We were served Moroccan soup, kebabs, and couscous (one of the most famous dishes there). For dessert we got an Arab pastry which are also incredibly famous, and delicious. All of this was only 10 dollars! Everything was farely inexpensive here. The next day we went on a tour of the city and saw various Mosques and buildings, as well as the many different shopping areas. This is a place where there are many goods and haggling is perfectly acceptable. They had amazing leather goods for extremely cheap. I was able to buy a real leather bag for only 50 €.
We ate lunch and then relaxed and walked around for a while shopping and enjoying the beautiful sights. We left early the next morning but this was definitely the experience of a lifetime. The people here are some of the nicest in the entire world and are completely welcoming of Americans. They are trustworthy and humble people, and if anyone ever has the chance, this is definitely a place I would explore!
The following Thursday I left class and went to the airport to head for Paris! This was about a two hour flight. When I got off the plane, I was greeted by some fellow Sun Devils that are studying abroad in this town. It was about 8 or 9 at night when I got to their apartment and completely unlike Madrid, things were closed and quiet. I got a delicious Baguette and Crepe for dessert. Let me just tell you, you have not lived without experiencing these delicacies. Nutella and banana crepes are among the greatest things the world has to offer. Later we decided to venture to the EiffelTower. At night, the tower is all lit up, and the first ten minutes of every hour it sparkles. This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It is absolutely breathtaking. I decided then to get some rest because I wanted to tour the city the next day. I was able to hang out with a lot of other ISA students who knew the city really well, which was great. The first thing we did was go back to the EiffelTower to see it in the day time. We also made the long climb up the stairs, which is a lot higher than you would expect. It was a little bit scary. The tower was originally built as a temporary structure for the World Fair, by the same man who designed the Statue of Liberty. At first, the people of Paris hated the tower and used to climb it to sit and eat, and stare at the Statue of Liberty that is in France. They did this so they did not have to stand looking at the Tower. I am pretty sure that these feelings have passed and people have come to love the tower as it is a unique symbol of the city. We proceeded to walk down a street with every single designer store you could ever imagine. Even a 5 story Louis Vuitton! This took us to the Arch di Triumph (I apologize I have no idea how to spell these things in French). This was built by Napoleon to honor fallen soldiers, and there is also a memorial of the unknown soldier. After this, we walked over to the world famous Lourve museum which is enormous. You would need a month just to walk around the whole place, nevertheless admire the art. Because we were short on time, we stopped at the main attractions, that some of you may know. First, the Mona Lisa, which is probably one of the most well known pieces of art in the world. It is a lot smaller than you would imagine, and placed behind glass to prevent damage. You were only able to get about 20 feet from the piece. It was painted by Leonardo da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance with a face often described as enigmatic. It has also been stolen from its home in Paris, but recovered and restored. We also saw Venus de Milo which is a beautiful statue. It is made out of marble and supposedly portrays Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. The third famous exhibit in this museum is Winged Victory. This was discovered in 1863 in pieces. It was beautifully restored, and I was told that Nike was inspired by this piece. Later, we went to the Notre Dame cathedral. This is a beautiful cathedral where unfortunately, pictures are not allowed inside. You may know it from the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The next day, we still had a lot to see so we started at another cathedral, Sacre Cour. This was a climb, but at the top was a beautiful place with a corresponding beautiful view of the city. Around this area were hundreds of artists selling handmade paintings. If I would have had a few hundred euro to spare, I definitely would have bought one. We found a restaurant here where I was able to try Escargo (yes I ate snail), and it had a similar taste to a clam or mussel. I also had French Onion Soup which is much better in France. We then walked over to Moulin Rouge, a very famous theater of which the movie is based off of. Paris is a gorgeous city with tons and tons of history. The architecture is amazing and I am so happy to have gotten to experience this place! I flew home the next day, completely exhausted, and slept all day!
The next Wednesday marked my departure to Rome. I feel as if each city I go to gets more beautiful and interesting than the last. We got into Rome really late at night, so went to bed to get ready for an eventful day. We woke up really early, and of course decided to try real Italian pizza for breakfast. Even though I lived in NY almost my whole life, this definitely beats what we have there! We decided to hop on a tour bus so we could see the whole city in three days. There are many incredible things in Rome but I will tell you about a few that I think you will know. The first place we passed was the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed. This basically just looks like ruins, but it is incredible that it is still there. We then got to see the Pantheon, which was a church, and is another very famous building. There is a hole at the top which allows sunlight and even rain pass through the building. We then got to see the Roman Colloseum which is an amazing structure. It was built as an amphitheater in the year 70 and was used for Gladiator games. The whole outside is also built like a big aqueduct. It is enormous, and mind boggling how people of such ancient times could build such a place. We were also able to see the Vatican (where the Pope lives), which is another beautiful building. Rome is another precious and amazing city with great people and of course, great food. Everywhere you look there are ruins and ancient architecture that I cannot even put into words. I have some pictures on my computer already to send you, but have tons more that I have not yet been able to add. As soon as I can I will have these sent to you. In the mean time, I am off to Portugal and Ibiza for Spring Break – Can´t wait to tell you all about it!