WOW. What a summer it has been! Where do I even start...
Together, we took Spain by storm as we traveled across the country hopping from city to city. We walked the alleys of Barcelona and had siestas in the beautiful parks. From there we flew to Ibiza which was an entirely different place full of crazed students and colourful hippies. Soaking up the sun, we lazed on the sand savouring the island's gorgeous beaches. In sunny and dry Granada we reunited with two more friends from our residence floor in Australia (an Aussie and another Spaniard). The last time the five of us were all together was on the opposite side of the world, at uni - and now we're in Spain! So surreal... and completely awesome. We explored the small and crooked streets of this beautiful city with its Arabian accents and glittering alhambra. We enjoyed fantastic tapas and tinto in Valencia to salsa dancing in Madrid and everything in between.
Along the way we were introduced to new Spanish friends who guided us around their cities. Every night was a late night (or early morning) and our bodies became accustomed to sleeping 3 or 4 hours. Of course no trip to Spain would be complete without sangria - and by the bucketfull.
The Alhambra by Night - Granada
Spanish food = true true love. I had only been introduced to Spanish food recently so I was extremely excited to taste all that the country had to offer. And I did. From pan con tomate for breakfast, to tapas including empanadas, Russian Salad and frittata, to all the seafood you can imagine (shark?! yep) and all washed down with a few glasses of tinto or sangria. Spanish food includes such a huge variety of dishes that are bursting with flavour and colours.
One dish that I was looking forward to probably the most, and which did not disappoint, was paella. I had it twice and it was just magical. From the way it's prepared to how it's served and devoured, it is an amazing dish that everyone should try at some point in their lives.
Too soon came the day when we all parted our separate ways from Madrid. But the tears were short-lived because I was headed for BOLOGNA! And no time for sleep either - I savoured a full twenty minutes before getting up for my flight to Italy. Ah well, sleep when you're dead right?
View from the Ponte Vecchio - Florence
My time in Italy was quite a bit different from that in Spain. I stayed with another friend from exchange in Bologna, and from there I traveled a lot by myself. I took day trips by train to Verona and Florence, returning back every evening to a fantastic, Italian dish of pasta or pizza, flooded with cheese, cooked by my wonderful chef of a friend. I am so glad I walked each city because the amount of pasta, cheese and gelato I ate is actually ridiculous.
Perseus with the Head of Medusa - Piazza della Signoria
Florence was a dream. It was so surreal visiting the city I had studied for so many years. I walked the pages of my art history texts as I explored this beautiful city bursting with Renaissance art and architecture. The Duomo, Orsanmichele, Uffizi Gallery, Santa Maria Novella and the Boboli Gardens - they were all so magnificent and it was very hard to regretably tear my eyes away from this gorgeous place. I would truly love to live in Florence.
From there I traveled by night to Roma. I spent two full days in the city so I tried to squeeze in as much as I possibly could. I toured the grand Colosseum and Roman Forum, I discovered the Trevi Fountain and sat on the Spanish Steps. On my last day in the city I spent a total of five hours at the Vatican and St. Peter's. What can I say? It's the Vatican! Hello Sistine Chapel - I melted when I entered it. It was incredibly overwhelming, all the art and architecture I tried to soak up - but I loved every minute of it.
The Pantheon - Roma
Honestly, I visited Italy for the art, architecture and food - and my high expectations were met.
It is really hard to put into words how incredible my time in Spain and Italy really was. To show you the pictures and try to describe my experiences is not quite enough. Basically, you have to travel to these places yourself to truly understand these stunning cities and tantalizing flavours. I have seen, tasted, learned and experienced so much on this trip of a lifetime (and it's far from over!). I advise you all to plan holidays to Spain and Italy. Seriously, you need to visit if you never have.
So over the next few days (well let's be honest.. more like weeks) I'll post more about the different foods I've had while traveling: the flavours of Spain, Italy and England. On September 20th I finally leave for my job in France and I'll take you on a tour of the country's delicious and delicate wines, cheeses and pastries. From there I'll travel to as many cities and countries as I can possibly manage (and afford), and of course tell you all about my favourite eats.
My tastebuds are touring the continent, and it's such a delicious adventure.