So this post is rather delayed, but Andrew has been threatening me with a very painful death if I don’t post soon, so I figured I may as well start from the beginning.
One of the great things about studying abroad in Australia, is that because of its southern hemisphere location, their seasons are swapped around. This has a couple of great effects. Firstly, I get to skip spring, for which my allergies are eternally grateful. And secondly, winter break was nearly two months long.
While I could have sat around at home and and watched TV for 8 weeks (which I would have loved), or gotten a job to earn money to spend down here (which in retrospect would have been nice), I (as Theo and Andrew and several other students did) chose to travel. However, instead of coming to Australia and exploring the vast landscape that was to be my home for the coming semester, I instead traveled around Europe.
I spent a total of about 3 weeks in France, Spain, Italy, and Holland with two of my best friends, one from high school, and one from college. The logistics were made easier by the fact that my parents had recently moved to London, so I had a base of operations in the right part of the globe.
We started off in Paris for New Years Eve, and we met up with another couple of friends who were traveling around for what was an amazing start to the new year. We spent the whole day on the 1st visiting various places around the city, only to find that unfortunately, many of them were closed for New Years Day, but we enjoyed ourselves and sampled Parisian culture nonetheless. We then took a train to Madrid, by way of a few hours in San Sebastian, a Basque town on the north coast (where there was actually a bombing a few days ago, luckily no one was hurt). We had two whirlwind days in Madrid, during which we saw Guernica, visited the Palacio Real and the Plaza del Sol, and ate dinner at the thoroughly Spanish time of 12:30 am, and then we took another train down to Seville. More palaces, more plazas, more Spanish culture, and some very strange things (like a giant rocket ship, a monorail, and a Christmas parade on January 4th) all added up to make the city one of my favorites in Spain. We then flew to Barcelona where we spent 6 reasonably lazy days hiking around the city, touring unfinished churches, and reuniting with more friends who are studying abroad there. On January 12th we returned to London, and my companions returned to classes.
But I wasn’t done traveling yet. I discovered that European airfares are insanely cheap, and when I found a return trip to Venice for £14 a weekend trp was absolutely required. The city was incredible, unlike anywhere else I’ve been, the way the canals criss-crossed the little alleyways was awesome, and all the squares and churches were a treat to find. The buildings were almost as beautiful as my travel companion, and all the people were incredibly… well, Italian. We visited a couple of other islands in the area, and took a bus-boat from place to place. The weekend was amazing overall.
The following week, another friend studying in Europe came to visit my in London, and we spent a few days really exploring London and a few other sites around England (including Bath and Stonehenge). On the weekend, along with a pair of Haverfordians studying in England, we took a trip to Amsterdam. The canals couldn’t really compare to Venice, but some of the cultural aspects of the city were very interesting to observe. I have to say the food was also rather good (pancakes and French fries… what’s not to like?).
Unfortunatley, my aimless travels couldn’t continue forever, and on February 18th, I turned my world upside down and flew to Australia.
I promise to make the time between this and my next post shorter than last time, and also to figure out how to upload pictures before then.
Talk to you soon!