beautiful barcelona

So, it has been around seven months since I completed my Spanish pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago.  Wherever I go, whatever I do, I bring the Camino, the Way, along with me.  In my mind I will forever be a pilgrim, a traveler, wanderer and a nomad. Due to the life changing experience I had on the Camino, I have left a part of my heart in Spain.  This past weekend I was able to travel back to this country that is so close to my heart, the one that I love ever so much.  Three of my friends and I headed off to the gorgeous city of Barcelona on Friday afternoon.  It was my first time traveling with this group and it was fantastic.  I am so thankful we were able to explore the city together!

The second I stepped off the plane I felt at peace like I was arriving home.  We flew with Ryanair from Pisa to Girona and we then took an hour long bus ride into the city.  We stayed in a small room in a sweet woman’s home which I organized through Airbnb.  The room, I was informed prior to our stay, is typically used by two people and would be a tight fit for the four of us.  It did turn out a bit tight and cozy, but the room only cost us each six euro per night, so I was not complaining! The woman we stayed with was actually originally from Germany and has an adorable, sweet three-year-old son.  She was so inviting and her love for her sweet son was so evident and beautiful.  It was my first time doing a private room with Airbnb, as I usually rent out an entire apartment, but it was such a sweet experience since our host was so welcoming and loving.  (Below is an image from my flight to Barcelona).

I quickly fell in love with Barcelona and I also re-fell in love with Spain.  The first night we explored the nearby area of the city and headed to a tapas bar for dinner. The next morning (Saturday) we headed to a bar for breakfast, oh how I have missed my typical Spanish Camino breakfasts!   After breakfast, we headed to Park Güell which was incredible.  I loved seeing the Gaudi architecture, palm trees, beautiful flowers, and gorgeous views.  It was a bit cloudy, the park looked gorgeous regardless of the weather.  While there, I even bought an adorable stone necklace from a street vendor.  One region of the park requires an eight euro entrance fee, which we opted not to do, but we did enjoy exploring the free areas of the park.  I will definitely go back and do the other regions of the park someday but as a broke college student, I was happy with and enjoyed what I did see of the park!

After quite some time at the park we explored the Gran De Garcia street with Gaudi’s architecture and then we headed to see Sagrada Familia, we did not go inside, but we did admire the exterior of the grand, fantastic, unique church.

Afterward, we headed to the beach area of the city, got paella, and walked along the dock and sea.  The beach and water reminded me of California, it was a great time. We stopped by Santa Maria del Mar as well, the church is grand, beautiful and filled with stained glass, it reminded me of León’s House of Light. After visiting the church, we tried to make it to the Magic Fountain light show, but we missed it, which is another reason to go back to the city someday!

On Sunday morning, I went to the Picasso museum. I got I’m free with my student ID which was a blessing and a surprise! I enjoyed my time at the museum, it is very organized and well done.  Afterward, I headed back to Santa Maria del Mar where I admired the beautiful stained glass while having quiet prayer and reflection time. While there I was taken aback by the church’s glorious beauty and the colorful sunlight that poured through the windows. It just seemed like a holy, heavenly place.

After visiting the church, I wandered through the streets, met a sweet pup, then headed to an adorable, artsy cafe.

I also visited the Arc of Triomf (as pictured below).

Later on, I met with my friends at the apartment and we headed back to the Girona airport via bus.  Our flight went well and we made it back to Florence in a timely manner.  I really enjoyed my time back in Spain and I cannot wait to go back again in the near future.  Until then, I will embrace my time in Florence and get ready for my future travels.  What’s next?  Venice, Greece, Morocco and more!  Until then…Stay true, live justly and always travel on.  Peace and love.

Advertisements

freedom found in ireland

To travel. To live. To experience. To be freed from everyday life, to let go.
I hope and pray each of you know you deserve those liberties.
This life is so short. I long to live every second of it. I am tired of leading a life that is restricted.
I am free. You are free.
This semester I have truly learned the importance of freedom.
In the city I am captive. To society, to the constant restraints that goes along with living out of my element. Despite this I have found my way, my secret places of joy and peace. I have found my nature in a cold, dark city. To me, all cities are dark for they are devoid of the freedom that nature brings. As wonderful as cities can be, eventually they all blend together. At the core all cities are the same. Though I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have had to travel and explore Europe, my home is in the wilderness, where I am free, where I am connected to God, earth, and to myself. The last six days have been my escape, my freedom, my revival, as I have been in the nature filled country of Ireland. Last semester my university group and I had an educational field trip in Sicily which I previously wrote about. This semester, our educational trip was going to be to Turkey. However, by some twist of fate the trip was changed to a visit to Ireland.

I have always longed to visit Ireland and to see her beautiful untouched green landscapes. I did not, however, know how much this trip would impact me.
From the moment I stepped off of the airplane, I was in love with Ireland.
I became enthralled with the true untouched beauty of the earth in the country.
Though I had quite a busy itinerary, I feel more at peace than I have in months.
Being in the city (Florence) has drained me of life and health in many ways. I have been struggling with various health issues this entire year I have been abroad. Yet, when in nature my spirit is given life and a sunny, peaceful glow. My trip to Ireland has been so special since I have been able to ground myself and allow nature to heal me.

While in Ireland I explored Dublin, Clonmacnoise, the Athlone Castle, the Connemara region, the Kylemore Abbey, the Glenloe Abbey, the Cliffs of Moher (Burren region), and Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains. We also visited Trinity College and this morning I took a trip to the Guinness beer factory here in Dublin. I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to have all of these special experiences and I will not take this gift for granted.
My favorite moments in Ireland were the simple ones.
Like climbing a tree and taking the freshness of the wooded region that surrounded the Kylemore Abbey. Or sharing a deep, meaningful conversation with my sweet friend Julia as we hiked around the Cliffs of Moher as a rainbow kissed the beautiful, cool, damp sky. Visiting the cliffs was so special as well. The beauty was overwhelming and fantastic. Everything just seemed right and the earth seemed so happy which gave my soul so much peace. Another memory I will cherish was the stunning hike in Glendalough with Jaqueline and Julia. I am so thankful for my sweet friends, they are so precious to me. I am also thankful for the beautiful drives we took through the countryside, especially through the rocky, untouched Burren region. With green, uneven, rocky lands grazing sheep, costal views and soft sunlight, I was in constant awe as we drove through the majestic land towards the Cliffs of Moher.
The beauty I beheld as I looked out at the countryside as we drove by rolling hills, sweet grazing sheep and small, quaint homes was something I will remember and cherish forever.

There is something about Ireland, something special. It’s not the cities or lights that makes Ireland so special, instead it’s her simplicity.
It’s the sweet countryside, the adorable cobblestone streets of Dublin, the fun, lively pubs, the loving people, the great culture, all of it come together and make the country such a wonderful place. I am determined to return to Ireland someday and live there for a time in my life. For it would be a dream to live in a country that seems so untouched, wild and free.
The beauty of the country does not end at the scenic landscapes but reveals itself in the hearts of the people here as well. The love that is so freely given here is so unique and unlike anything I have ever experienced.
What I love the most about Ireland is that the Irish people are not only kind to other people but also compassionate and loving towards animals. The driver of the coach bus that my group was transported in throughout this trip even spoke to me about his love and respect for animals. He (John) told me about a sweet donkey sanctuary in Cork and he claimed that ‘nearly everyone in Cork is a vegetarian’. This high value for animal life is refreshing and it warms my soul. Who knows maybe someday I will volunteer at the sanctuary with the sweet donkeys. I sure hope I will be given the opportunity to do so at some point in time.
My time in Ireland was a dream. A happy, lovely dream.
Though I didn’t find a leprechaun, I did find my freedom and so much overflowing joy. I hope you too can find the freedom that I feel and I hope that you too can experience the beauty that Ireland has to offer.
Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and love.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

IMG_2551

the eternal city

Rome, the Eternal City, the place of the gladiators, the colosseum, catholicism, and abounding history. Yes, after six months in Italy I finally made it to the Eternal City.
I am not sure why I waited so long to visit the beautiful city but that is beside the point.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the historic place. Instead of making my trip a rushed, sightseeing weekend, my friends Andrea, Katie and I decided to see less of the city but to truly experience the beauty of Rome. We stayed in a wonderful airbnb apartment which turned out to be fairly centrally located. The trip consisted of a day of relaxed sightseeing where we saw the colosseum, the Trevi fountain, the capuchin crypt, the spanish steps and other monuments. Sadly, the forum closed very early so we never made it there but that’s just another reason to return. The second day we spent at Vatican City where we visited the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s, and the Sistine Chapel. Seeing such incredible places and in good company, was a dream. Throughout my trip I could not help but imagine I were in “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” it was almost like disneyland all over again.

The colosseum seemed very eerie and the cloudy, rainy weather only added to the mood. Sadly, the Trevi Fountain is currently under construction, but I was still able to imagine what the fountain would have looked like with running water and without scaffolding. I was actually able to throw a coin in the fountain since there was a small area for tourists to throw coins- it would have been a crime to go to Rome without doing so!
I even made sure I ate some homemade spaghetti for dinner, for you know what they say… When in Rome do as the Romans do… and eat pasta!
Seeing Vatican City was very special for me and I was surprised to find that I really did love St. Peter’s Basilica, especially Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Sistine Chapel was incredible as well and I know understand why people claim that pictures could never do the place any justice, one cannot capture such beauty! While in Vatican City I even used their famous postal service and sent a postcard to my loving family whom I miss ever so much.

On my final day in Rome (Sunday) I attended a beautiful mass at a church nearby Vatican City. I was able to see two of my childhood summer camp friends (Annie and Sarah) who are currently studying in Rome which was so special. Annie, Sarah and I went to a little cafe then attended the angelus together at noon. Sweet Pope Francis said the angelus, it was so special to see the beautiful, peace oriented pope! After the angelus I was able to see another family friend, John, who is studying to become a priest, which was also incredible!
I did love Rome and despite what others say everyone was kind, caring and the streets were fairly clean. I definitely need to make another trip to the city someday because it is impossible to see all the city has to offer in a lifetime let alone one weekend!
Stay true, live justly and always travel on. Peace and love.

IMG_2565

IMG_2555

IMG_2552

IMG_2558

IMG_2554

IMG_2559

IMG_2560

IMG_2562

SAMSUNG CSC