Despite the fact that my time in Europe is winding down, I am doing quite the opposite! Now that I  have passed in all of my final papers, I have ample time to explore new parts of Europe that I have forever dreamed about. My friends have the same mindset as I do, so that is why we jetted off to Madrid, Spain! 

   Like my trip to Portugal, the weather in Madrid was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! It hit 80 degrees when I was there and I am eternally grateful for being able to feel the sunshine on my face. I did get quite an atrocious sunburn, but that is not something to focus on. Because the weather was so glorious, we spent as much time as we could outside. We ate every meal outside and even ate one meal in the Plaza Mayor. I remember learning about this in my high school Spanish classes, so it felt pretty surreal to see it in person! My favorite meal we had was brunch at this place called Amazonia. The fruit was extremely fresh and we finally stumbled upon iced coffee! Unfortunately “cafe frio” is not as common in Spain as in the United States, so when I saw an iced latte on the menu I jumped at the opportunity to order one.

    In keeping with staying outside for as much as we could, my favorite thing that I saw in Madrid were the Botanical Gardens. I was so impressed with how green all of the plants were and I completely understand how one could get lost in there for hours! There were so many beautiful sights to take in and I am so happy I got to witness them.

   On my last day in Spain, my friends and I took the train down to Valencia, another popular city in Spain. We had one thing on our itinerary for this day and that was to lay on the beach! We had the perfect beach day and it was definitely the highlight of the trip. This is where I experienced my painful sunburn, but being able to stick my toes in the Mediterranean Sea and take in all of the warmth that the Valencia beach had to offer made it entirely worth it. It was so hard to leave Spain, especially once I checked the weather to see rain in Galway, but this was another trip with my friends that truly is unforgettable!


Plaza de Mayor

Botanical Gardens
City views from Valencia

Easter Weekend in London!

   This past weekend, I was finally reunited with my entire family! I hadn’t seen my dad or twin brother in over three months, which is the longest I have ever gone without seeing them. My mom was recently in Galway for St. Patrick’s Day, but I was just as excited to see her as well. Needless to say, I have missed them immensely and getting to spend time with them was just what I needed. I was able to show them around Galway, but the real highlight of our visit was jetting over to London for Easter weekend! This was my second time in London (my first being in January) and I am so happy I got to experience it with my family. This trip was better for many reasons, with one of the main reasons being that I got to sleep in a nice hotel, as opposed to a hostel, crammed into a room with 12 other girls. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and I made some great memories in the Saint Christopher’s Inn Hostel, but I am never going to turn down a queen-sized bed with fluffy pillows!

    We did all of the typical tourist attractions, with Buckingham Palace being my favorite place we stopped. It was such a beautiful day when we went, with the sun hitting the gold accents of the gate just perfectly.

    My family and I did something that I was not able to see during my first trip to London, and that was visit Abbey Road. My dad is a huge Beatles fan, so being able to get the perfect photo crossing the street was something that he demanded we do. We did just that and had a stranger take the PERFECT shot of us! I am happy I got to see the iconic street, but I am even more happy that we were able to fulfill my dad’s one wish of the trip.

  We certainly crammed a lot of sightseeing into a just-over-48-hour trip, but I would not have it any other way. I had the best time with my family and I know we created some of the best memories during this trip. There may have been a few tears shed in the airport when I had to say goodbye to them, but I will see them in 3 short weeks and I cannot wait for that!

Family photo at Buckingham Palace
Sunny day at the Palace
Abbey Road!!

Porto, Portugal!

   After not traveling outside of Ireland for a month , I was itching to travel again. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I even missed the always hectic Dublin Airport and the long treks that always accompanied boarding my Ryanair flights. This trip was even more special, because it included warm weather! Don’t get me wrong, I love Ireland deeply, but we have had a BAD stretch of weather recently. I was ecstatic to train the torrential downpours of Galway for the sunshine of Porto, Portugal!

   I went to Portugal with two of my roommates from Holy Cross and it was the perfect girls trip. We did not have too much planned, leaving plenty of time for our own exploration. Porto is a coastal city, so when we stumbled upon oceanside restaurants and shops, we knew we were in the right place. Our first day, we visited the outdoor markets and took a gondola lift to get an even better view of the city. It was so beautiful and perfectly resembled all of the pictures I Googled prior!

   Something that surprised me about Portugal, was how YUMMY the food was. I was not expecting it to be bad per se, but I also was not expecting it to be (probably) my favorite food in Europe thus far. The brunch was easily the best part. We had big breakfasts each day, which consisted of fresh fruit with yogurt, savory pancakes and some of the best breakfast sandwiches I have ever eaten. Our favorite restaurant was called “Zenith”, and it was so good that we went back on Sunday morning! The food was not the only good part of the experience; the waiters and other restaurant staff were so kind to us and it made our time that much better.

  As good as the food was, the highlight of my trip was the boat cruise we took. Our cruise was on Saturday, which was projected to be the rainiest day of our trip. This did not occur and instead the sun came out, to the point where we even got sunburnt! I love the water, so being able to see all Porto had to offer by boat was so amazing. I know I have given raving reviews of each trip I have taken, but this one has seriously been a highlight of my study abroad experience. I hope I am so lucky to one day return to Portugal, again!!

Views from the gondola

Exploring the streets of Porto
Boat ride!
BEST brunch at Zenith

Visitors Galore!!

  It has been the busiest 2 weeks (in the best way possible)! I have been so fortunate to have friends and family visit over the past few weeks. Friends from Holy Cross visited the first week of March and my mom was here last week! 

  I was able to visit the Cliffs of Moher again with my friends, which was especially great because the first time I went it was so foggy that I could not see anything. Despite it being a long bus tour, the views were spectacular and so worth it. Another fun part of the week was watching some of my friends jump off of the Blackrock diving board in Salthill, which is supposedly a “must-do” for anyone who visits Galway. It was 40 degrees and raining the day we went, so I did not partake, but I did promise my roommates I would accompany them at the end of April (we will see if I fulfill that promise). It was so nice to catch up with my friends and show them some of my favorite spots in my temporary home. Even though I had not seen most of them since December, it felt like no time had passed and made me very excited to spend my summer with them.

  The fun and excitement continued when my mom arrived. I barely slept the night before because I simply could not wait for her to get here. The best part of the four days that she was here was the weather! It has been especially rainy recently, but my mom brought the sun and the warmth which was amazing. We explored so many new restaurants, including a very picturesque rooftop spot and a yummy restaurant in Salthill. 

  The best part of spending time with her however, was the Galway City Saint Patrick’s Day parade! I can now check “spending Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland” off my bucket list which definitely did not disappoint. Everyone was decked out in green and the streets were filled with people of all ages, making it a moment I will never forget. 

  While seeing family and friends did make me miss home a bit, I am so happy I got to share my current world with them and I know I will see them all before I know it!


Weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland

  I know that I keep saying this, but Edinburgh may be my favorite place that I have traveled to! This is such a good problem to have: liking the places that I travel to more and more every time.

We spent less than 48 hours in the city of Edinburgh, but this still felt like enough time. My favorite thing that we did was walk along the Royal Mile because it really gave me a sense of Old Town. The views of Old Town were spectacular and it was even cooler because our hostel was situated just outside of Old Town, giving us a more modern perspective of the city, along the backdrop of the archaic town.

I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy the food was on this trip. I was not necessarily expecting the food to be bad, but I just was not expecting the unlimited options of restaurants, within walking distance from the hostel. One night we went to this hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant and the other night we had a big group dinner at an Italian restaurant, which was so fun. The best food we ate though was at brunch on Friday. I had creme brûlée French toast and am still thinking about it! We may not have indulged in traditional, Scottish cuisine, but the meals were still as delicious as ever, nonetheless.

After Edinburgh, I will be in Ireland for the next month or so, seeing as I have family and friends coming to visit. There are more updates to come from my home-base soon, but that is all for now!!

HC girls at the castle!
Scene from the iconic Victoria Street
Old Town!
Yummy breakfast!

Realizing I am not in America Anymore…

  After being on-the-go for the last two weeks, I am very happy to have had some time in Galway. I am inclined to write about this past weekend, seeing as it was “Super Bowl Sunday.” The day may be a nationally-recognized holiday in the US, but it was nearly impossible to find a pub in Galway to sit and watch the game. This has been one of the biggest “culture-shock” moments for me since arriving in Ireland.

  The problem that I kept running into would be that a place would have the game playing on the TV, but no sound. As a HUGE Chris Stapleton fan, this was very problematic because I would not be able to hear my idol perform the National Anthem. The television volume was turned off in most places (yes, we tried our luck at multiple different pubs) because of live music, but my friends and I were finally able to negotiate with the pub staff to turn the TV speakers up. There was a pretty decent sized crowd in The Dail on Super Bowl Sunday, with many Irish people locked in to the Chiefs and Eagles matchup, despite all of chaos that ensued before the game.

  The crisis was seemingly averted, until halftime rolled around. All week my roommates and I were making our predictions for what song Rihanna would sing first. Would it be “Run This Town,” or “Please Don’t Stop the Music (Spoiler alert: she never even played this one)? Unfortunately, as soon as the clock ticked down in the second quarter, we all were asked to leave because the pub was closing. This meant that I was forced to watch the halftime show late and on my laptop, with live updates coming in through WhatsApp by my parents.

  I did enjoy my first, international Super Bowl Sunday, but I would prefer the usual watch parties with all of my favorite comfort foods back in Massachusetts. Stay tuned for next week’s adventures!!

A ‘Pinch Me’ Type of Weekend

  I have always dreamed about seeing the Eiffel Tower in person, and I will never forget the moment that I looked up into the sky, to see it sparkling right in front of my very eyes. I will also never forget the amazing dinner I had with my friends, where the restaurant was situated right next to the Eiffel Tower.  There is something so special about being able to see world-famous landmarks for the first time, and this moment really grounded me, allowing me to recognize how fortunate I am to be able to be traveling across Europe each weekend.

  With that being said, I think it is safe to say that I fell in love with Paris. I loved the streets lined with cafes, the fashion of the locals (I felt like I was in a scened of Emily in Paris), the food and just the overall atmosphere. I mean, it is not everyday that I am eating a chocolate croissant with my friends, on our way to the Louvre. I felt like I had to pinch myself multiple times on this trip because I could not believe that I was actually in Paris!

   I really enjoyed taking the metro out to Versailles as well and being able to see the Palace. The architecture and the gold trim along the palace was absolutely stunning. This is definitely a must-do in France.

  This may have been my first trip to Paris, but it is certainly not my last. I can’t imagine a trip topping this one, but I still have so much time left in Europe. As they say in France, “Au Revoir!”

Eiffel Tower!!
Outside of the Palace of Versailles
En route to the Louvre
Friends in Paris <3

1/27/23-1/29/23: Weekend in London

  I have been so busy attending classes and traveling across Europe that I am just blogging now about my trip to London at the end of January! The trip began with a 3-hour bus ride (in the middle of the night) to Dublin, where I took a RyanAir flight to Dublin. Traveling at three o’clock in the morning is certainly not my favorite thing to do, but it is optimal in order to fit in all of the sightseeing that we want to do in just two days. 

  I was very surprised at how some parts of London are extremely modern, yet there are other parts where the buildings look straight out of the seventeenth century. Being able to see buildings like this right next to each other was fascinating, making me compare the city to Boston, seeing as the dichotomy between modern and old-fashioned is very present there as well.

  My favorite part of London was the Tower Bridge! We were able to walk across it at night and see it all lit up which was beautiful. I am also so happy that I got to run into some Holy Cross friends at Big Ben. As much as I am having so much fun bopping around Europe, I do often find myself missing home, so seeing familiar faces always eases any angst that I am feeling. 

  Next, I will post updates about my trip to Paris last weekend, which exceeded any and all expectations I had!

Settling into My New “Home”

  I can’t believe I have almost been in Galway for a month! I really feel myself settling in and falling in love with the routine I have established here. 

  A few of my favorite activities to do, when I am not going to class are: taking walks into town and admiring the River Corrib, exploring new coffee shops that satisfy my constant craving for iced coffee (my new favorite spot is “Bubble and Bee”) and on the nights that it is not freezing cold, enjoying a sweet treat with one of my roommates, Liv. We quickly have become big fans of Murphy’s ice cream, specifically the salted caramel flavor. I have come to realize that appreciating the little things during my time in Galway has become very important to me; whether that is a pretty view or an ice cream cone with a friend. I want to make the most of my time here and these have been some of the ways that I have been doing that. I will check back in soon!