Boston Reunion.

Posted by defabbias at 7:57 pm on Saturday, February 12, 2011
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The four of us met in Boston over winter break.
Although we met up several other times throughout the 6 months since being home, Boston was the first BIG adventure.

It actually was lengthened by a day, too, because of a crazy blizzard- we all met up a day early.

Justine and Maggie live in the surroundings of Boston, so since they both came to CT and NY for my birthday and Marissa’s birthday- we figured it was time to reunite on their side of the states.

I picked up Marissa in CT, and we met Justine in her small town outside of Boston- where her lovely family hosted us. We spent that night and the next day snowed in, so we played tons of games, watched a lot of movies- and played in the snow. This extra day was my favorite, because it was just like old times, in Cardiff. Our friendships began casually, from just hanging out- so it was wonderful to do that again.

We met in Boston one week before our one year anniversary of arriving in Cardiff.
We have changed, but our friendships have only grown.
It’s so great to spend time with each other again and talk about how much studying abroad has changed our lives.

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It’s been almost a year since I left for Wales….

Posted by defabbias at 5:11 pm on Tuesday, January 4, 2011
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It is almost one year since I left for Wales.

I can not begin to explain how great this experience has been for me.

Even after being back for six months, each day I become more aware of how studying abroad has changed me for the better. it has opened my eyes to the world around me, and diminished any fears I could have ever had. I don’t know where I would be if I never went abroad, but I do know I am so thankful for who I am now that I did.  :)

Everyone should study abroad..

We all met in Connecticut for Marissa's birthday, one week after I left Cardiff.

We went apple picking after my birthday!

In 8 days, I am driving to Boston to meet up with 3 of the friends I met while in Cardiff. It is remarkable to me how we have all kept in touch so well.  I am thankful for the friends I have made. This will be the third time we’re meeting up since we left Cardiff

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Why Wales? Entry #19: T-12 hours until takeoff. (My story, part 2)

Posted by defabbias at 1:58 pm on Thursday, June 10, 2010
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So I leave Cardiff in 12 hours… but I actually leave for the airport in 9 hours… At 330 AM I will be taking a taxi ride to Cardiff airport and then saying farewell to the amazing city that I fell in love with.

…so I not only got to Cardiff, but I made it through 5 months, and those 5 months have been the most amazing months of my life. I honestly never expected it to be so amazing. I didn’t expect to meet the people I met, or experience the things I did. It was so much better than I could have ever dreamed.

I have to say the best part of the trip has been the people whom I have met. I met some of the best friends on this trip. The thing that really amuses me is that 3 of those friends are from New Paltz. Imagine that, I would have never met them if I didn’t go to Wales- yet we were probably on the line for Jazzman’s coffee everyday together.

I don’t know who I expected to meet, but I didn’t think I would meet any possible best friends. I find it so cool that I met so many amazing people, and I find it even cooler that the people I grew closest to will be in the States with me when I go home. Out of the main 4 people I was closest to, 2 are from MA, one is from CT, and another from NY. The others are from NY, NY, and NY. I love all of them and it excites me that when we say goodbye, it really isn’t goodbye.

Shoutout to Meghan Marone, a New Paltz student who asked me to give her a shout out on my blog. She is most likely one of the coolest people on earth. We shared a class at New Paltz, and lived in the same apartment complex, yet didn’t know eachother. Thank you Wales for Meghan Marone.

Now, What do I love most about Cardiff? As I said before, it feels like home. I never saw myself living in a city. As a matter of fact, I expected Cardiff to be a lot bigger than it is… and I was prepared for that. But when i discovered that Cardiff is small and quaint, I was pleasantly surprised. Cardiff is somewhere I would love to live and raise a family. As a matter of fact, if I wasn’t an education major, I would plan on moving here…. but the ed. systems are too different. (also, if I had a Visa, I would have stayed the summer).

Ten things I am going to miss most (no specific order)

  1. The Royal George Pub
  2. Bute Park
  3. Roath Park
  4. Cider
  5. Fish and Chips
  6. The fact that they call french fries “chips”
  7. The people I have met
  8. Peacock’s clothing store
  9. Having a castle in my city.
  10. Welsh Cakes
  11. (okay 11 things) Malt Vinegar on chips!

..and so much more!

7 things I’m looking forward to at home.

  1. Thick milk shakes
  2. American water faucets (lol)
  3. not having an exchange rate
  4. my sisters
  5. my brother
  6. my education classes
  7. my friends

 

Cardiff has been my home for the past 5 months. I have met some of the most amazing people in my life. I have traveled throughout Wales, Ireland, Italy, France, San Marino, and England. I learned that anything is possible, and I can truly do anything I put my mind to. I am thankful for my sister, Shannon who has helped me, and been there for me throughout. Shoutout to Justinalina, Mags Bags, and our “ghetto mama”, Christine. This trip would not have been the same without you.

I am leaving Cardiff different from the person who arrived 5 months ago. Now I have to work on bringing who I am here, home.

Over and out.

It’s been wonderful.

<3

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Why Wales? Entry #18: Saying Goodbye. (My story, part 1)

Posted by defabbias at 7:32 pm on Wednesday, June 9, 2010
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I am currently sitting her in flat 8 of Dwyfor Block of Uni Hall. My room is a mess. I have my suitcase by my side which is half full (or half empty). The rest of the room is either filled with garbage, or miscellaneous stuff that hasn’t made it’s way to the suitcase yet. It’s tough fitting everything inside one suitcase and a carry-on! I did it on the way here, but was 17 pounds over (it’s weird referring to pounds as weight and not money). Anyway, I was charged $100 for the extra weight coming here… so I’m trying to pack better. I have a better carry on, and I ended up getting rid of a lot of stuff.

…but I also bought a lot of stuff too.

Alas, here I am, 11:58 P.M UK time, taking a break from packing to close on the most amazing 5 months of my life. In 30 hours and 8 minutes, my flight will be leaving Cardiff Airport. After a layover in Amsterdam, and then another in Atlanta, I should land in Virginia by 8pm EST. Of course in my head it will be 1am, so needless to say, I hope to sleep on the plane. Especially since my we’re planning on going out when I get back to celebrate my sister’s wedding which is the following day.

This past month, I have been trying to prepare myself to say goodbye. As you can see by the previous 2 paragraphs, I am desperately trying to avoid it. I really fell in love with Cardiff. As a city, as a place to study, as a place to live, as a home. If I had to put it simply, that would be it. Cardiff feels like home.

When I decided to study abroad, I honestly didn’t know where I wanted to go. During high school and part of college, I was actually a French major, so studying abroad was always in the plans. Traveling has been a love of mine ever since I went to Italy with my 11th grade English teacher, which was my first European experience. The plan was to fulfil French Education and then study abroad somewhere in France, and that’s that.

…but then I changed my major to elementary education.

Pretty much every ed. major I came in contact with warned me that studying abroad does not fit into the elementary education program. I took that warning, and gave up my dream of studying abroad. just like that.

Honestly, I did. I wasn’t upset or anything. I focused on my elementary ed. classes and set toward that. Until my best friend called me. Our mutual friend Liz (whom this blog is dedicated to) studied abroad Spring ’09, and my best friend was planning on visiting her during spring break with a couple other friends.

She expected me to say no.

How could I say no to London?

I knew London would be an amazing adventure, but I had no idea what it would lead me to.

London opened my eyes, and helped me realize how strong my love for travelling was. It helped me realize that studying abroad was still something I wanted to do. Something I needed to do. Now, I’m very lucky to have my best friend, because I almost settled on a shorter session, but my best friend insisted that I would have a much better experience if I stayed the semester.

I knew I wanted, and needed to go- but I still didn’t think it was possible. My preconceived notion of study abroaders is that they are wealthy students who have full support of their parents. Although I have some support from my parents, I have zero financial support from either of them. Besides money, I had tons of excuses, including my apartment, my furniture, and my car.

but then I just decided it would be worth it. I couldn’t let anything stand in my way. I wouldn’t let my furniture, car, apartment, or lack of finances stop me from living the life I want to live.  I would find a way, and everything would figure itself out.

Now the only problem was that I had no idea where to go. I met with someone in the NP study abroad office, and he helped me narrow it down. Since my concentration is English, I had to go somewhere that offered English courses, more specifically, the ones I needed. It ended up being narrowed down to a London program or Cardiff.

I didn’t really want to go to London, because I had already been there. Although I knew I didn’t see everything there is to see in London, I wanted some place that would be 100% new to me.

Cardiff being the cheapest program offered was only one aspect which drew me in. In actuality, I wanted something different. I wanted to go to a place and see things that most people have not seen or heard of.

Cardiff would be 100% unique to me; I wouldn’t have to follow anyone else’s expectations or trip guidelines. A clean slate.

I applied to the program, got in, and then applied for loans and worked on filling all of the forms and getting everything together.

It’s so weird for me looking back, because for so long I didn’t think this trip was possible. Not only did I make it here, but I had the best time ever. I honestly did not expect anything so great.

…to be continued….

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Why Wales? Entry #17: Caerphilly Castle!

Posted by defabbias at 6:59 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2010
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Throughout the last month here, the Americans slowly started leaving. Justine was second to leave, and since she was leaving so much earlier than everyone else, she felt as if she was missing out. I ensured her that there is always time for one more adventure, and so we planned one!

Caerphilly Castle is not very far from Cardiff, and is situated in the very nice Welsh town of Caerphilly. This medeival castle is beautiful! We brought sandwiches and enjoyed them by the water which surrounded the castle. Then, we went inside for some exploring!

One of the structures on the castle actually leans more than the leaning tower of Pisa. Go Wales!

The entire day was perfect, included with ideal weather! We all had a great time with eachother, having our last adventure with Justine…. well, last Welsh adventure, as we do plan to see eachother often in the States. :)

 

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Why Wales? Entry #16: Dunraven Bay

Posted by defabbias at 1:15 pm on Monday, June 7, 2010
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The story oh how I discovered Dunraven Bay amuses me. I was writing my essay for my ‘Wales and the Welsh Language’ course about what makes Wales unique. In completing this research, I typed into google “Welsh landscape”, and images came up looking like this:

I took a break from writing my essay, to discover where this place was. Dunraven Bay, which is also referred to as Southerndown bay, is actually very close to Cardiff. All we had to do to get there was take the train to Bridgend, and then a bus to the bay. The entire journey… round trip… cost only 7 pounds and 40 pence.

The cool thing was that when I saw that the google images were from Dunraven Bay, I typed ‘Dunraven Bay’ into google. The first result, ended up being a website which noted the filming locations for the TV show Merlin, which as I mentioned in previous blogs, that my friends are obsessed with that show. So, now not only did I want to go to Dunraven because it was absolutely beautiful, but my friends would undoubtedly want to join- to see another beautiful filming location! I sent out a facebook note, and it turns out that my friend has been planning on going there for the entire semester, but hasn’t mentioned it yet.

We had a wonderful time. We brought sandwiches from Cardiff, and had a little picnic by the water. We walked around on the rocks for a while and found some lovely sea-stars. We then explored some more, and hiked up the hills, viewing the bay from the edges of the Dunraven cliffs.

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Why Wales? Entry #15: South Northern Wales!

Posted by defabbias at 1:59 pm on Wednesday, June 2, 2010
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What’s interesting to me, is that the last big trip that we went on ended up being one of the best. Along with many of the other trips, we ended up going here, because my friend Justine found out about it from a book she read in middle school. In fact, it was this book which first gave her the desire to go to Wales. She was originally supposed to take this trip with her sister, but when that trip got delayed due to volcanic ash, she took me and Christine. We didn’t have time to read the book, but we loved it just the same.

We hopped on the train and headed for Machynlleth. Unfortunatly, there’s no train that goes straight to Machynlleth, so we had to make a big triangle, and first go to Shrewsbury, England and switch trains. When we got to Machynlleth, which is a very small town in Wales, we stopped at the ATM and got some food in a small market. We bought sandwiches and banana chips. We each got an entire bag of banana chips for a pound, and nom’d on them the entire trip. We then had to take a bus to Corris, which was our final destination.

As we rode on the bus from Machynlleth, we got our first views of the glorious Welsh countryside: the mountains, the hills, and the sheep! There were tons and tons of sheep. I guess it is true what they say, that there are more sheep than people in Wales.

The bus we were on also doubled as a primary school’s school bus, so the bus was filled with kids on their way home from their long day at school. We had to ask the driver where to get off, and he graciously let us off right at the bottom of the hill which brings us to our hostel. One of the school girls was kind enough to lead us in the right direction.

We hiked halfway up a very steep hill to our lovely hostel. The hostel, being the only hostel in this tiny Welsh town was perfect. It had such a homey feel to it, with an entire living room with a fireplace, books and games. It also had a kitchen that we could use, or order a home cooked meal. We were going to get the meal the second day, but we ended up missing it.

We decided since we had a good part of the day left, we could head out and adventure. We headed up the zig-zag path, known as “the zig-zag” to King Arthur’s Labyrinth. King Arthur’s Labyrinth is a family attraction which was built in an old coal mine. After the mine closed down, they decided to make it into an attraction.

We walked down the hill, and entered the labyrinth (with hard hats) and took a boat ride to where the stories would be told. In the darkness of the labyrinth, different stations were set up which illuminated and animated different Welsh myths.

The labyrinth is one part of the Corriss Craft Village, so we planned to go back to shop on the last day.

We headed back down the zig-zag, and walked around the town a bit. This didn’t take long, considering the town is so small. We enjoyed fish and chips at a local pub, and headed back to our hostel and went to bed.

Day two was a day of adventures. We headed out of our hostel, grabbed a bite to eat, and went to hike Cadair Idris.  A myth associated with this mountain is that if you sleep on it, you will either wake up as a madman or a poet. We’re already mad enough, so we couldn’t take that chance… :)

The hike was actually pretty intense. It started with steep steps, and then continued with only rock formations. At the top, it has been believed that the body of water is covering an extinct volcano, but that idea has been discarded.

We spent some time at the top, put our feet in the water, and relaxed. The mountains surrounding us were really beautiful.

We then descended the mountain, and took the bus back to our hostel. After a long, enjoyable day, we relaxed in the hostel playing games and completing puzzles.

The next and final day, we had breakfast at the craft village, and shopped for a bit before we headed back to Cardiff.

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Why Wales? Entry #14: Puzzlewood

Posted by defabbias at 3:19 pm on Sunday, May 23, 2010
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One of the great things about the people I have met here, is that they lead me to places I would not ordinarily find on my own. Two of my friends here, Justine and Marissa are avid fans of the shows Merlin and Doctor Who. Both of these TV shows have filming locations locally. Doctor Who, is actually primarily filmed in Cardiff, which is pretty awesome.

Anyway, since my friends are such avid fans, they ended up finding and bringing us to Puzzlewood. Puzzlewood is actually in England, but it was so close by. Puzzlewood is an attraction located in the forest of Dean. This forest is not only where they filmed episodes of Doctor Who and Merlin, but it is also said that J.R.R Tolkein got inspiration for Lord of the Rings.

This entire place was beautiful. We took a train from Cardiff, and then walked from the station. It cost under 5 pounds for entry. The weather was beautiful. There was also a small petting zoo before the entrance, so we spent some time viewing the animals.

We then entered the forest, and meandered a bit. Everything was covered in moss. There were paths that crossed the forest, and we adventured around until we saw it all. It really was beautiful.

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Why Wales? Entry #13: Every volcanic ash cloud has a silver lining….

Posted by defabbias at 3:53 pm on Friday, May 21, 2010
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So there has been a volcano that erupted in Iceland, and the volcanic ash has caused many flights throughout Europe to be delayed and canceled. Luckily, this problem did not occur until after The Italian Adventure… that would have been bad. I know there are tons of people that have been affected by the ash, and have been stuck away from their host country. I am very thankful that by the time the volcano erupted, I was back in Cardiff- safe and sound.

The week that all this occured, my friend’s sister was supposed to fly out for a visit. My friend booked hostel rooms and tickets to see Wicked in London. Unfortunately, her sister was not able to come that week- so I got to go.

This adventure was very spontaneous, because I didn’t know Justine’s sister wasn’t coming until a couple days prior.

We left eary that morning, and headed to London. We had some breakfast at our favorite waffle place, and went shopping for some nice clothes to wear when we saw Wicked.

Sidenote: PRIMARK is the best store ever. We have one in Cardiff, and there is one in London too. We went to Primark, and I got:

  • -black shoes
  • -button down shirt
  • -black pants
  • -belt
  • for only 17.50 (pounds)

NICE.

 We had some time to spend in London, so we ended up going to Camden Market and shopped for a while. We also got some lunch and then headed to our hostel to get ready for the show.

The show was amazing. It was one of the shows that I have always wanted to see, but never got the chance. Although it was unfortunate that Justine’s sister didn’t come, me and Justine had a really nice couple days together.

The next day, we went to Stonehenge. This was also something that Justine was planning on seeing with her sister, but I got to go instead. Stonehenge is amazing as well, and what is really interesting is the fact that it still remains unknown as to why it is there.

UPDATE:

The good thing, is that eventhough Justine’s sister couldn’t come that week- she was still able to come. Justine also surprised her sister and took her to see Wicked, so she didn’t miss anything. :)

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Why Wales?: Entry #12 The Italian Adventure “Days 9-15″

Posted by defabbias at 8:39 am on Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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Day 9, March 28, 2010

4 becomes 3.

Originally, the plan was to leave Rome early and head to Pompeii, but we ended up missing a train because of daylight savings time. We decided to switch our original plan a bit, and head to Naples and relax for a night, so we could have a fresh start the next day in Pompeii.

We said goodbye to Marissa, who was headed back to Wales to meet a friend and also her parents for the rest of Easter break.

*Be Aware, moment #1*

As we were boarding the train to Naples (Napoli), we quickly found seats and were ready to sit down. Since we didn’t have assigned seats with our ticket, we were in the aisle. As we are standing in the aisle, a man came through with a basket of food, trying to sell food to the travelers. As we moved out of the way to let him pass, he asked us where we were going. When we replied that we were going to Napoli, he told us that this train did not go to Napoli, but the other train across from us did. Luckily we had enough time to check it out, so we went to the other train to check. When we realized that he was lying to us, we went to get back on the train, but he kept yelling at us that this train did not go to Napoli. We ended up getting back on through another door with ample time, but it was very stressful. Eventhough he was impersonating somebody of authority and just messing with us, it was good that we used our best judgement and didn’t take what he said seriously.

Be Aware,  moment #2:

As we arrived in Napoli, we could not see the street that our hotel. We knew it was close by to the station, but we didn’t know how close. We ended up hopping in a taxi- needless to say he went way out of the way, charging us 20 euro, when it was pretty much right next to the station. We should have seen that one coming, next time we’ll be more observant.

The hotel was beautiful! We had the day to adventure, so we took the metro to Sorrento, which was one of my favorite places when I went in 2005. Sorrento was the first European city I was ever in. It was good to be back.

We walked around a bit, had some gelato, and headed back to the hotel.

We ended the night with some pizza for dinner, since Napoli is where pizza was first created.

In all honesty, Naples was not what I expected. It’s the only city we went to that I would not go back to. It was really sketchy, with garbage all over the place. The pizza was good, but pizza is good throughout Italia. :)

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Day 10  March 29, 2010

Naples to Florence

We woke up at a reasonable hour, checked out of our hotel, and left our bags at the hotel for the day. We got some quick pasteries, and headed to Pompeii. We were all really glad we decided to go to Pompeii; the weather was absolutely beautiful.

When we got back to Naples (we just made the train back), we got our luggage and hopped on a high speed train to Florence (Firenze).

Don’t be like this, moment #1:

When we were on the train to Florence, we ended up meeting two Americans who were studying in Barcelona for the semester. Cool right? Not so much.

Here’s what happend. First they started talking to us, and we soon realized that we all must have been in Pompeii at the same time and didn’t know it. Then, they went on to say how they kept getting in trouble because they were climbing on the ruins. That should have raised a red flag. The ride went on, and we would talk to them sparatically. Then, the conductor came to check our tickets…

I gave my ticket to the conductor. Justine gave her ticket to the conductor. Maggie gave her ticket to the conductor. These two girls had tickets, but they were the wrong ones. A very easy mistake to make, they were on the high speed train to Rome, rather than the regular one which they had tickets for. It wasn’t the mistake that was horrible- it was their reaction. They were so mean to the several conductors when they said that they had to charge them the difference. The girls refused to pay and made multiple stories as to not having money- including that she left everything in Barcelona. This went on for a while- including the college aged girls to rip up the receipt once they agreed to pay- and state that her mom was going to be so mad. She not only blamed the conductor, saying that he  “should have checked the tickets at the door”, but also insulted his English speaking abilities. I can honestly say that he spoke really well. To top it off, one of the girls asked Justine (a girl they just met 20 mins ago!) to “lend” them 50 euros!

The entire ride was ridiculous, and honestly made me embarrassed to be American. It’s people like them that make the American stereotype as being dumb, selfish, and spoiled seem true. We understood their mistake, but the way they handled it was so immature. We couldn’t believe that these were college students studying abroad. They should know how to represent their country and their program.

Don’t be like this, moment #2

Now, this moment involves passports. When we got to the international cafe in Naples. it is required that you give the desk clerk your passport as your only valid form of ID. Although this often raises a red flag, it is best to use your best judement. We saw that it was okay, and we sat down, used the computer, got our passports back, and left.

While we were there- some high school aged girl threw a fit because she did not want to give the man her passport. Again, I understand her feelings, but her rudeness was not neccesary. She spoke down to him and accused him of being a theif, when he was only doing his job. Again, this girl was American… not helping the stereotype.

We checked into a lovely hotel, had some dinner, and went to bed. We were excited to see a new city the next day!

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Day 11, March 30th, 2010

Florence to Venice.

Planning to wake up by 9am, and check out by 10am- we overslept.

We woke up at 9:40, and still showered and everything- checked out by 10am! 

Florence was very relaxed. We started the day off with some pastries, and went to the famous leather market. It was awesome to look around and try and get the prices lowered by haggling. I didn’t end up buying anything, but Maggie and Justine got some awesome spray paint art.

We met up with Maggie’s friend who is studying in Florence. We walked around a bit with some gelato (of course) and later got lunch. We then said farewell to Firenze and headed to Venice. (This trip has now come full circle for me).

This was when we met most likely the nicest man I have ever met. We checked into our hosel, and the man behind the desk was a real genuine, kind hearted man. He immediately demonstrated his gratitude for us being there, and made sure we were taken care of. He reccomended a great chinese restaurant which was right next door (it was late, so chinese was perfect). We ended up talking to ‘Uncle George’ until 330 that morning- not even realizing it had gotten so late. He told us a lot of his stories from his life growing up in Greece, as well as working at this hostel in Venice. He told us many stories of how he would make these new friends and they would end up taking advantage of him by taking his money and never repaying him or thanking him. It was kind of sad, but we could tell he was happy to have some people to talk to and to listen to him. He ended up inviting us to breakfast the following morning, which we accepted since it was the three of us and all.

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Day 12, March 31, 2010

Italy to France!

We started off the day having a delicious breakfast made by ‘Uncle George’. He made us steak, eggs, and hot chocolate. We were so thankful that we had met such a nice person. We promised to write him and het sent us on our way to explore Venice with some fresh fruit.

Venice didn’t last long.  Since we were supposed to be taking an evening night train to Paris, then from Paris to Pau- to meet Justine’s friend the next day, we decided to get our tickets ready first. Luckily we checked, because that specific night train was sold out. uh-oh!

It ended up working out. We worked another root, and ended up in Pau in time to meet Justine’s friend. The only draw back was that Justine and Maggie didn’t appropriately get to see Venice. We were only there for less than an hour, which we spent in an internet cafe trying to figure our plans out.

We took a train from Venice to Milan and then jumped on the night train to Perpignan, France…. which would ultimately lead us to Pau, France- our final destination.

The night train was pretty cool. Boys and girls were separated, so I was alone- but it was funny because I has a multi lingual conversation with one of my cabin mates. I knew he didn’t speak English. I expected him to speak French, because we were on our way to France. I also wanted to practice some of my french to prepare for Pau(I took French from 7th grade up to and including my first year of college… 6 years and 2 semesters). I finally got up the courage to ask where he was from (in French), to which he looked blankly. He didn’t speak French. I then realized that the train’s last stop was in Barcelona- so he spoke Spanish. (I took 2 years of Spanish in High School, and 1 semester in college) As I started trying to recall some Spanish, I started speaking random bits of Italian, because even though I haven’t taken Italian- I have been surrounded by the language for the past 12 days! Our “conversation” was some Spanish, English, Italian, French- and some how we understood. We spoke about politics and music, and I think a CD he had which the songs had something to do with politics, but I’m not too sure.

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Day 13,  April 1, 2010

Getting to Pau.

We had a long day ahead- Woke up around 6am on the overnight train with 15 mins to get ready. We got to Perpignan, then had to get to Narbonne. In Narbonne, we had some time, so we went into the small town and got some delicious french breads! We were starving, so we each ate an entire loaf of bread, as well as seveal pastries and pain au chocoalts. :)

We went from Narboone to Toulousse, and Toulousse to Pau.

It was actually pretty awesome. I was really nervous about using my french again. I knew I would have to use it since Maggie and Justine did not know any French. I was very surprised that it came back so easily. :) In Pau, we had trouble finding our hotel, so I stopped into an Elementry School to ask for directions. We finally found our cozy room and then met Justine’s friend for dinner and then went to a cafe.

Pau is beautiful. 

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Day 14, April 2, 2010

A day to relax?

After 14 days of travel, we finally have a day to sleep in and relax. Since there isn’t too much to do in Pau, we slept really late, and then went to the nearby supermarket and got cold cuts, bread, and junk food. We took it back to our room, and watched movies and just enjoyed eachother’s company without having to rush everywhere. After a while we headed out to see the Chateau de Pau, and the rest of the city. The mountains are beautiful.

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Day 15, April 3, 2010

Last day!

We woke up very early and took a taxi to the Pau airport at 7am.

We took a 9:40 plane to London.

We had a final vacation lunch in London at The Shakespeare Pub- we all got fish and chips, since we missed them so much! What are we going to do when we get back to America?

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The next day was Easter, and all of the Americans (except Meg) were back. We decided to make an Easter dinner for everyone. It was so great to all be back in Cardiff and be able to relax. We had another week off until classes started up again.

**Just a note about how we traveled. We bought Eurail tickets via Eurail.com. With these tickets, you choose the amount of countries, and the amount of days. I chose 8 days of travel throughout Italy and France. We ended up saving  a lot of money and time. With these tickets, we were able to just hop on the local trains without needing a reservation. For the high speed, we needed a reservation, but the reservation costs a lot cheaper with the Eurai pass. I definately reccomend it.**

This trip overall, was amazing. 15 days is the longest amount of time I have been out traveling. Each day was a learning experience. Part of the stress of catching trains and buses was part of the fun of it. The experience would not have been so rich if we didn’t have to go through so much planning to make it just right. Meeting the different people, also made the trip unique, because it demonstrates that there are so many different types of people in this world. We learned that when traveling, it is so important to use your best judgement. The best stress is usually overcome by reamining calm and thinking out the situation. :)

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