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Today (when I wrote this post 6/14/16) marks a week that I’ve been home and sometimes it honestly doesn’t feel real. I am baffled that when I wake up in the morning I can’t just hop on a tube and go to Camden Market or Piccadilly Circus. I still feel like it hasn’t hit that I’m actually back in the states and not in London anymore. I miss it and it comes in waves, but mostly I’m glad to be home.

My mom keeps commenting on how “grown up” I look and even asked if I grew any because I looked taller one day (we both know I haven’t grown any since I was 13) and my dad says he saw me more in London than he has at home. This past week has been focused on summer school and getting caught up with friends. Almost every day since I’ve been home I’ve hung out with someone and it’s a little weirder than I thought. I often notice awkward silences and I think that’s just because so much has happened in the five months that I’ve been away.

They told us that people’s lives would go on while we were gone and that they would change too, but I didn’t realize how much until I saw everyone again. People got married and are starting families while other friendships have ended. I’ve still got a bit of jet lag left in me, because I’m still waking up at 7:30am when I usually don’t wake up until ten.

I’m not sad about being home and I love hanging out with my friends, it’s just a bit of an adjustment. After living in London, a city of 9 million people going back to Kansas City makes the world seem a bit smaller. In a lot of ways that’s really good, but like I said before I do miss being able to go out and do things by myself. However, I won’t have much free time left to dream about London. I’ll be starting work again soon and I’ll have summer school to keep me busy. I look forward to getting back in the groove of everything.

As mentioned before I can’t believe five months has come and gone. In that time I’ve changed so much as a person and for the most part I’d like to say it’s for the better. I’ve broadened my horizons and learned a lot about not only myself, but the world as well. While I was away in London I worked on telling myself I don’t have to have everything figured out, whether it be identity, who I am, what I want to be, what I’m going to do after I graduate, when I’m going to move out. All of those things. I just told myself that I’m still figuring it out. I’m 22 years young and it’s okay not to have my whole life figured out.

I feel more at peace with the unknown than I did before I left. Sure, it still scares the hell out of me, because I don’t know what I want from this world, I’m still figuring it all out. But when I do, I hope that whoever’s by my side gets it, whether it’s family or friends. Because that’ll make me happy and you know, that’s all anyone really wants, is to be happy.

So as sad as it is to say that this is the last post about studying abroad, it also feels like closure. And I just wanna say thanks to everyone or anyone who’s kept up or even read or liked one blog post. It means a lot to me and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures and seeing the pictures.

<3

Luck of the Irish

Traveling to Dublin, Ireland was probably the fourth longest days of my life (funny how the longest days of my life are on this trip). We started out at six in the morning and went to the train station, where we caught a couple trains. But we took a lot of trains and switched and then took a two hour ferry ride. By the time we got to our hotel we had been traveling for fourteen hours.

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As you can imagine we turned in early for the night. The next morning was our lazy morning and we woke up and had breakfast before taking a bus tour of the city. Right before our bus tour though, a bird pooped on Jessica, my mom and I. So I guess the luck of the Irish wasn’t on our side. However, because my parents’ knees went out we didn’t get off the bus to see anything and there wasn’t anything spectacular that caught our eye. So after the bus tour Jessica and I walked around the town for a bit before going back to the hotel for a nap. Later on we met up with my parents for dinner and went to Hard Rock Cafe and then crashed for the night.

Our next morning was another early one and another fourteen our tour to the Cliffs of Moher. This tour was better though because one our tour guide was hilarious and shared great stories, two we got to stop every now and then and get off the bus to take pictures and three it felt like we got to actually see what we came to see. We spent an hour and a half to two hours at the Cliffs of Moher. The view was absolutely breathtaking and you better believe that I took a million pictures.

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After the tour and the long bus ride back we turned in for the night to head home for London the next day. If I were to go back and visit any of the countries I traveled to I would definitely come back to Scotland and Ireland to explore more. The people were so warm and friendly and surprisingly the weather was beautiful in Ireland.

After this post I’ll be posting one more about my first week back in the states. It’s crazy to think I started this blog five months ago and now my time for writing in it has come to an end.

Wee Coo

It’s been a while since i’ve posted on here and I apologize for that, but by now a lot of things have happened and the biggest one is me coming home (we’ll get to that later). This post is going to be about Edinburgh, Scotland.

It’s been 18 days since I left for Scotland, but because things were wrapping up so quickly I didn’t have time to update, so I’m going to do my best to remember the main points from the few days I was in Scotland. To begin with we got off to a rocky start, simply because my parents slept in my small little dorm because the scheduling for the hotels got messed up. So the three of us were cooped up in my dorm with all of our luggage. My parents took my bed and I slept on the floor under my desk. With paper thin walls you can probably imagine that none of us got any sleep, not to mention that the dorm beds were the absolute worst.

But nonetheless we were up at 4:30am after about four hours of sleep, roughly. We then took the 72 bus to Barnes and from Barnes we went to Kings Cross/St. Pancreas. From there we took a train to York where my parents planned a five hour little trip. Little did we know York was the last place we wanted to be. When we got there it was cold and rainy and my mom had caught a cold and her knee had gone out, as well as my dad’s. We dropped our luggage off at this little building that held luggage for travelers and then we tried to explore York.

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After wandering around York for a bit we found a little pub and got food. When we were done eating we stopped at a pharmacy for my parents then continued to wander, only to find out the places they wanted to see cost to get in. At this rate none of us were really feeling this trip so we decided to go back and wait at the train station for the rest of our time.

Jump forward a handful of hours and we were finally in Scotland and at our hotel. We caved in and ate at the expensive restaurant in the hotel. After dinner we all crashed. The next morning was our lazy day where we hiked up to Edinburgh Castle. Unfortunately it was foggy and freezing so we didn’t get any good pictures. Exploring the castle would’ve been more fun if it hadn’t been freezing and we hadn’t gotten separated from my dad. Once we found him we found a pub for dinner then headed back for our next long day.

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The next day was our Loch Ness Tour and it was fourteen hours long. Unfortunately it didn’t go as planned due to our bus driver getting sick, so they had to switch drivers, which gave us an hour delay on the bus. Once we got rolling through it was pretty interesting. Our tour guide told us about Queen Marry of Scots and I found it really interesting mostly because I watch the show Reign. The bus tour was long and it took us 4 and ½ hours to get to Loch Ness. However, I didn’t mind too much because the scenery was breathtaking. Our tour guide told us that Scottish people replace their vowels with an ‘oo’ sound so a cow would be a ‘coo’. Many times she pointed out the ‘coos’.

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Once we got to Loch Ness we were given a small picnic and an hour and a half to look around. The tour was definitely more bus than tour, but I still had fun at Loch Ness. We took a few pictures and explored what we could before getting back on the bus to our long journey home. Once we got back to Edinburgh we got a late dinner at a Turkish restaurant and then crashed. Our next day was our last full day, but it was a lazy one.

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By then we were all exhausted so we didn’t do much. Jessica and I went shopping for a bit while my parents did laundry. When we got back to the hotel we had a bit of a plot twist and were locked out of our rooms. Due to another schedule mishap with hotels we had to check out of our rooms and move to another one. The one we had to move to wasn’t nearly as big and mine and Jessica’s beds were right next to each other, opposed to our other room where we each had a king size bed and could sleep diagonal. As disappointing as it was, it was also humorous. It was our last night there though and we headed to bed early that night since we had another early travel morning. The hotel was very accommodating though and left us a very luxurious breakfast. As sad as it was to leave Scotland we were all ready to go onto Ireland.

Hakuna Matata

These past couple of days have been super busy and packed and with my parents being here I will be out and about more often than not. As promised this post will include my trip to Madame Tussaud’s, Tower of London and my favorite activity thus far…The Lion King Musical.

Two days ago I started my day early and woke up at 7:30 and got ready to go and meet my parents and go to the Tower of London. The Tower of London is massive and there’s so much to see and do. You can walk around the wall of the castle, go up in the White Tower as well as many others, but my favorite thing was seeing the crown jewels. It’s insane to think that there’s a room that holds a priceless amount of jewels and gold that was worn by kings and queens of the past and present. It’s even crazier to think that all it does now is sit in a room for people to look and admire. I can’t even imagine having that much wealth within my possession.

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After climbing many stairs in the Tower of London and three hours later we got lunch before heading over to Madame Tussauds. Madame Tussauds is so cool and they have so many wax figures of not only celebrities, but world leaders as well. It’s crazy to think how much work they put into each wax figure. They’ve got it down to the freckles on the person’s arm to facial hair and outfits. The wax figures are also the exact height of the celebrities, actors and world leaders, so it was funny to take pictures with them and seeing how tall they actually are in comparison to myself. Madame Tussauds was something I’ve wanted to go to for a long time so I’m glad I finally got to go and take my parents. They were completely blown away by it all.

Once we finished at Madame Tussauds we went to Westfield mall so I could get mini pancakes, ice cream and Nutella as well as my parents getting to see the giant mall that is forty-two acres. We also had dinner at this Mexican restaurant Wahacca. It was pretty good and decently priced. When we finished browsing through the mall it was time to call it a day. We had officially been on our feet for over twelve hours and were all exhausted, so we headed home so we could be well rested for The Lion King musical.

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The next day we met up with my parents and I introduced them to my friend Holden. Everyone had a laugh as my mom taught us personality traits based off physical appearance. It’s hard to explain, but know it’s a real thing you used to be able to study (you probably still can). Once we got to the theatre we found our seats and waited for the show to begin. As soon as the screen went up and the music started to play I instantly got chills. I wish I could give the show justice by describing it, but to say that it was “outstanding” and “the best show I’ve ever been too” (and I’ve seen Les Mis, Wicked and Peter and the Star Catcher) is an understatement. The costumes were beautifully done and lit up the state, the music and singing was on point and oh my goodness don’t even get me started on lighting and stage.

The lighting was superb and the stage…the stage completely blew me away! Every hard thing that is shown in the movie such as Mufassa dying and the battle between Simba and Scar was done excellently! When the scene with the stampede came up I was a little skeptical on how they were going to pull it off, but they did it! They had wildebeest heads on a huge wooden pole, each one in set back a bit and in front of it so when they turned the pole it looked like they were running after Simba and to show depth and closeness they had other actors who simply wore wildebeest heads to show they were getting closer. Everyone was on the edge of their seats at this point.

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When Simba ran away to the jungle with Timon and Pumba the set went from warm, hot colors to cool and peaceful blues and greens. The scene where Simba runs into Rafiki and he sees his dad in the sky was done beautifully. Overall the musical was amazing and not only did it capture everything from the movie, but it made you emotional as well. Many people teared up when Mufassa died. However, throughout the play I couldn’t help but compare it to Hamlet, thanks to my previous Shakespeare class.

Needless to say I rushed down to the main shop and bought the soundtrack. I can honestly say that The Lion King was definitely one of the best highlights of this trip so far. Anyways, I’ve got another day ahead of me, I’m taking my parents to the best Greek restaurant in London and then we’re going to explore some more of this crazy city. So until next time.

<3

Reunited

The countdown has finally come to an end. Two days ago my parents arrived and words cannot describe how happy I was (and still am) to see them. The day after I got back from Brighton my parents arrived in London Heathrow at nine in the morning. I figured it would take them two hours to get to their hotel so I went to their hotel in Putney to meet them with a bag full of little breakfast pastries and goodies.

I waited in the lobby for almost three hours until they came in. I saw my mom from my peripherals first and I got up with a huge smile and said “Hey!” My mom immediately perked up and pulled me into a hug, only to start crying a few seconds later. Thankfully my emotions were mostly in check otherwise there would have been a room full of Scoby women crying. Next was my dad and I gave him a hug as well. It might sound weird to say this, but I didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw them. Five months is a long time to go without hugging your parents and I don’t recommend it. You need to hug your parents every day, especially when you’ve got such great parents like mine who are willing to travel across the world and visit you in Europe for three weeks. I didn’t realize how much I missed all their little quirks. Things that used to aggravate me are now things that I adore.

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Anyways, enough of the mushy gushy stuff. After they got settled in I treated them to Wagamama’s, which if you’re not familiar with it’s really good Asian food. After getting caught up and we finished our meal they headed back to the hotel to relax (they didn’t sleep on the plane) before we headed to the Shard later that evening for dinner.

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Taking my parents to the Shard was mine and Jessica’s treat. On our way to the Shard we stopped at Westminister so they could get some pictures of Big Ben and the London Eye. After we took a few pictures we headed back on the tube to the Shard. We ate at the restaurant Oblix, and I’ll start by saying you don’t go to Oblix for food. You go for the view. The view was amazing and breathtaking. You can literally see so much of London from that restaurant (it’s on the 32nd floor). Even though the food wasn’t as amazing as I’d hoped it’d be, we all had a good time and were ready to turn in for the night, because my parents had a big day ahead of them.

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The next morning they went to the Harry Potter Warner Brother’s Studio Tour and we met up with them later that evening to take them to Nandos at Westfield Mall. Unfortunately we got there near closing time so we only had time to eat, so we’ll definitely have to go back and explore. The next day though (being today) was pretty busy.

My parents took the bus to Roehampton and from Roehampton we went to Hampton Court Palace. We easily killed a few hours exploring the palace, in complete awe of all the history that was surrounding us. After we explored the palace we went into the gardens and the maze. When Hampton Court was done we headed back to Putney and I introduced them to Byron Burgers. They loved the food, even if the portions were a little overwhelming. After that we called it a night.

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Tomorrow I will be waking up at 7:30am to meet up with my parents and go to Tower of London. After we explore a bit there we’ll be going to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. I am so stoked to go there! My last Europe trip I wasn’t able to go, so I’m more than looking forward to tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll have a post about tomorrow’s adventure, but until next time.

<3

Brighton(ed) My Weekend

Three days ago I got back from my trip from Brighton and I can honestly say it was one of my favorite trips I went on. To start with Brighton is a beach town so it was lovely to lay by the beach for hours at a time, even if it was a rock beach instead of a sand one. However, Brighton is known for it’s pier where they have a little carnival area set up. There’s two main roller coasters, a lot of upside, topsy-turvy, spiny rides as well as two giant arcades. The pier alone is enough to keep you busy for a few hours, seeing as how it is one of Brighton’s main attractions.

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Along the pier and the beach front there are many restaurants and little shops to go into. Brighton is a busy town filled with many cool things to see. There’s street performers (we saw a guy playing an accordion on a tight rope), there’s a lot of cute little quirky shops towards the city centre of Brighton and of course, a ton of restaurants.

Most of my time and my friends (I went with Jessica and Holden) were spent on the beach throwing rocks into the ocean. Our hotel was less than a block away from the ocean, so we saw it every day as soon as we stepped out the door. It was nice to go on a little trip that we didn’t have a strict itinerary for. Brighton was our relaxing beach vacation, so we didn’t feel pressured to do everything at once or stay out late. We simply enjoyed our time and each other’s company.

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On our second day in Brighton we found this cute little cafe that had the most delicious breakfast food for a very reasonable price and huge portions. Needless to say we went back there again for breakfast the next morning. Our time in Brighton was short but it was well spent, lazing around at the beach taking pictures or on the pier riding rides or even exploring town and all the cute, little, quaint shops. As excited as I was to go to Brighton I was even more excited for it to end because that meant that the next day I got to see my parents. Jump forward three days and they are now here and have been exploring London! I’d tell you more about what they’ve done, but that’s for another post. Until next time though.

<3

Dover

The three longest days of my life have been on this trip. The first one, taking the cake was when I pulled an all nighter and flew to Madrid. The second one was when I arrived at Roehampton at ten at night and didn’t get into my room until past eleven, where there was no bedding so I slept in my coat. And the third one was yesterday.

Yesterday Jessica and I took a day trip to Dover, England to see the cliffs. Our bus ticket was scheduled for 9:30am. We arrived at the station three minutes before our departure time. However, the bus was already gone. A little frustrated and tired we begrudgingly bought another ticket for a bus at 11:30. Feeling a little sick to my stomach, we waited for the bus. Once I was on the bus I took a well deserved nap only to wake up to the bus driver announcing that they were going to drop us off in Canterberry and a bus would take us to Dover. A little nervous at this announcement, we made sure there was a bus taking us back to London that night. Thankfully there was and we got to Dover around two.

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After finding a cute little cafe to eat in, we set out for a 35 minute hike up to the Dover Cliffs. The hike was steep, there were bugs everywhere and it only seemed to get hotter the higher we climbed. After what seemed like five years, we finally made it to the cliffs…only for the fog to completely set in and block out what would have been an amazing view. Disappointed by this, we explored a little, only to make it back to where the trail began, so we went back down and decided to relax on the rocky beach. However, once we were down at the beach, the fog was gone and there was a perfectly clear view. Just our luck.

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After laying on the beach for a good while we headed back into town. There was not much to do in Dover with it being such a small town and over half the shops were closed when we arrived, but it was a must see because back at home I live on Dover Fork Street and Jessica lives on Kent. Our neighborhood is made up of streets with British places such as Pembroke, Croyden and Buckingham. It was mostly a laugh to go and visit Dover since we live on those street names.

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With there being little to do, most of our day was spent sitting around either on the beach, at a park or waiting on the bus. Finally at 8:00 the bus came to take us back. I didn’t get back to my flat until 11:30pm. Completely spent after waking up at 7:30 and not returning until 11:30pm, I passed out around one. Needless to say Dover isn’t a place I would revisit again, but it is one I’m glad I got to see. As many crazy, long days that I’ve had on this trip, I’ve loved them all. They make a great story to tell and make this journey more memorable. Until next time

<3

Ps. My parents get here in 4 days, 18 hours, 4 minutes and 42 seconds! Eeep!

What Is Time?

Time is not real, so I’ve decided. It can’t be possible that my time in Europe is coming to an end. It can’t be possible that I have less than a month left in this beautiful city (four weeks and two days to be exact), not when it feels like I just arrived in my empty dorm yesterday. How in the world has almost five months passed by?!

So many things have happened on this trip. I’ve met great people, tried new food and traveled to new places and it’s hard to believe that it’s almost over. Now with my last month here I won’t have as many exciting posts about any new places, seeing as how I’ll mostly be in London. However, in nine, almost eight days my parents will be arriving and staying the last three weeks with me. It is during this time I’ll be showing them around London and taking them to all of my favorite places. Towards the end of May though, we’ll be traveling to Scotland and Ireland where we’ve got some amazing tours set up for us, allowing us to explore the best places of those countries. Some of the places they’ll go without me like Stonehenge, WB Harry Potter ect.. because I’ve already seen them, but there will be some new places we get to try together. I can’t wait to see them and show them around, but I’m also excited to go home.

With that being said it appears that my posts for this blog are now numbered. I plan to go to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Scotland and Ireland so there will be posts for those exciting things, but the rest is up in the air. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find more inspiration around the city and will journal about it. Until the next adventure.

<3

‘Lizzie McGuire Moment’

From Venice to Rome we took a water taxi to the airport and got on our next flight. Our hotel room was nice in Venice, but extremely warm and we couldn’t figure out how to work the AC, leaving us to the fan that only blew out warm air. This made it difficult to sleep and left me with approximately two hours of sleep, making my first day in Rome exhausting. Not to mention that our taxi driver got lost and what was supposed to be a thirty minute ride, turned into an hour and a half. The driver stopped the cab multiple times to ask for directions and each time he got angrier with the people trying to help him. Many times he turned to us and asked us as well…but in Italian, so obviously we couldn’t help. Finally after an hour and a half he finds it and was kind enough to give us some money back for the time he spent asking for directions. By the time we got out of the cab we were more than ready to just chill in our Airbnb for a little bit.

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Rome’s Airbnb was beautiful, but was confusing as to who the host was. It turns out that the flat we stayed in is owned by a couple, but they rented it out to this girl who was living there. We had no idea we would be rooming with someone yet again. Except, we weren’t really rooming with her because to be rooming with someone you have to have a room. We had a couch…that the two of us shared. Mind you it was an L shaped couch so we fit comfortably for the most part, but still we didn’t have a room. We booked for a room and got a couch.

Anyways, after we unpacked we went out to explore. With only two hours of sleep and not eating anything, I figured lunch would help. I was wrong, eating food only made me feel worse. So after lunch we decided to call it quits for the day and return to the flat to do some laundry. I did laundry while Jessica took a nap and while waiting for laundry I read Harry Potter. But eventually, exhaustion took over and I passed out. When I woke up I still felt sick, so we went to the grocery store to get some food and stomach remedies. Needless to say that was an early night.

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Our next day in Rome was better. We met the girl living in the flat and she was lovely and ate breakfast with us. When we were done with breakfast we went down to the Colosseum and got tickets for it and the Roman Forum. The Forum was huge and beautiful; we easily spent a few hours there. After the forum we got another hop on hop off bus tour and went to the Trevi Fountain (aka the Lizzie McGuire fountain). Here I got to have my Lizzie McGuire moment and tossed a coin into the fountain, only it didn’t exactly go into the water. I’m almost positive it got stuck on one of the stone carvings.

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Shortly after the Trevi Fountain and a few more stops on the bus tour we headed back for the day, where the girl we stayed with was getting ready for her dinner party. She was thoughtful and invited us to it and even gave us her room for the night so they wouldn’t bother us. However, exhaustion took over and we politely declined and passed out in her bedroom, not to mention that we don’t understand a word in Italian.

The next and last day in Rome was more chill and we spent our day in the Vatican, exploring and learning about history and art. It was a nice way to end our time in Rome and move onto to the next city. The next stop is…Naples!

YOSAO (You Only Study Abroad Once)

Here is where the trip gets a little crazy. Our Airbnb was in Treviso, Italy…we needed to get to Venice. Little did we know that Venice was an island and to get to Venice from our Airbnb in Treviso it would be an hour taxi ride that would cost almost 80 euros and from the taxi we would have to get a water bus that was another 8 euros. Mind you we would have to pay that price again to get back to our Airbnb. However, we knew none of this when we landed in Treviso.

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When we landed we got a taxi to our Airbnb and trying to get inside the house was a trip itself. For starters, the host wasn’t even home. She was at work, which makes sense. However, we couldn’t find the keys to get in. She told us that they were in a black and silver box, so naturally we were looking for a black and silver box. Unfortunately, she failed to mention that it was not an actual box. The box she was referring to was the keypad to get past the gate and into her yard. Now you might be wondering how a keypad to her gate would be a box, well that’s a great question! Apparently, once you put in the code for the keypad and push in on keypad a secret compartment slides down and that’s where the keys were. But, honestly, who would’ve guessed that’s what she meant when she said a “box”.

Nonetheless we got into the house, changed our clothes and unpacked a little. Our next mission was to find a restaurant. The only problem was we didn’t realize that Treviso was a ghost town and the two restaurants we did come across after walking for half an hour were closed. Naturally we were frustrated. We were, hungry and tired (tungry), the place we wanted to see was an hour away by taxi and two hours by train, both costing a fortune. We were stuck and we didn’t know how to get out of this crappy situation. Luckily, the resaurant that was close had wifi so I started to research hotels and ended up booking one within the next fifteen minutes.

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Before I booked we weighed the pros and cons of staying in Treviso. Pro: we would save money by staying in Treviso. Con: There was nothing to do in Treviso. Con: All the restaurants were closed and we hadn’t eaten since early that morning. Con: We weren’teven in Venice…the place we came to see. Con: The airport we were flying out of Marco Polo, which was closer to Venice. Con: There was absolutely nothing to do in Treviso. Con: We were only in Venice for two days. As you can see the cons of staying in Treviso outweighed the pros of staying. So once I booked the hotel for Venice we walked back to our Airbnb and packed up, letting our host know we weren’t going to be able to stay (to which she didn’t even reply).

Once we got to Venice we picked the first restaurant we found, which was mistake number one. It was very fancy and the portion sizes were extremely small, yet cost a fortune. I got soup and water and it was over 20 euros. At this point Italy was doing some damage on my bank account, but that didn’t’ stop us from getting gelato. After dessert we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

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The next day we spent our time getting lost in Venice. It was a nice relaxing day and even though it was cloudy, everything was still beautiful and breathtaking. I was relieved we had so little time in Venice. The whole getting to Venice from Treviso was stressful and Venice had done a good number on my bank account with that hotel, but YOSAO, right? Our next stop was Rome!