A weekend getaway from Santiago with my Swedish roommate Julie. We chose to visit Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. We had heard that Valparaiso was beautiful and that the walls would be full of graffiti. Viña del Mar, on the other hand, is great for the beach!
We left Santiago on Saturday at around ten in the morning by bus. It took us one and a half hours to arrive in Valparaiso. Valparaiso is a harbour city and lots of neighbourhoods are located on the hills, which are called “Cerro” in Spanish. The Airbnb we booked was also on a hill and it took us some stairs to get there, but it was great! Cute and clean, and in the middle between all the graffiti. Because that is mostly for what Valparaiso is famous for, its graffiti. However, I would more call it art, because it is not just something, it is extremely beautiful.
Furthermore, I will not have a lot to talk about, besides the fact that Valparaiso is poorer than Santiago, which can be mainly seen on the streets in the centre because of the homeless people and dogs. We liked it more to stay up in the hills and wander around over there.
Because all the sightseeing is on the hills, we walked 15 kilometres on the first day; Uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill. Not to forget to mention the sweat… We had loads of full and because in the end, it is actually only walking around and taking pictures, there was a lot of time to get to know each other and talk about our lives. Since Julia and I live together in one house, we still mainly saw each other in the morning during breakfast and talked a bit about our days. There wasn’t really time for sensational conversations, because I needed to go to work and Julia to school. Therefore, it was even nicer to really get to know her better. She is a beautiful girl with a great personality!
To the beach in Viña del Mar
On Sunday morning, when we finally had our breakfast after searching for 45 minutes for a restaurant that was open, we searched for the bus to go to Vina del Mar. We took the local bus and, although it was very cheap (420 pesos = 0.50 cent), we did not really know where to get off after we had been sitting for around twenty minutes. The bus driver only stopped when the other passengers told him to stop. So, when we arrived somewhere where was “live”, we told him to stop and eventually, we made a good choice because we were there.
It felt as if I have never left the beach in Hoek van Holland. I was so happy and glad that Julia and I decided to go to the beach because after I had come home from Colombia, I did not feel very good and when I am at the beach, as you maybe know, I can always empty my head. Julia also has the connection with the sea and the beach, so after we had been walking around for thirty minutes and had taken some pictures, we decided to sit down on the beach and just look at it and be quiet. The weather was by the way amazing and pretty warm, around twenty-four degrees. Lots of Chilean people were having the same idea as us. They only took their food, drink, and towels with them.
We ended our beach day at a delicious Italian restaurant. I ate a great vegetarian Cannoli and we watched a football match between the two rivals of Chile. Both getaways from Santiago were nice! I cannot decide which one I would love more. To visit Valparaiso and Viña del Mar is for sure a recommendation!
To start off 2018, Megan and I thought about taking a little vacation. Finding a destination was less difficult than we expected. On a Friday evening, Megan came to me and we spoke about the possibilities. I had seen a girl post a blog about Étretat, which is in the North of Normandy, and after we had done some research and saw the beautiful cliff of Étretat, we both found this little town the appropriate one to go to.
When left on Wednesday morning, I picked Megan up with the car. I made sure we had food for lunch and she did the “guilty pleasures”. We were ready for our five-hours-drive. We arrived at three o’clock in the afternoon, besides that we forgot to follow the navigations sometimes, everything went smoothly. The hotel, Hotel Le Rayon Vert, was booked by Booking.com and is along the coast (the building with the light and dark brown colours on the picture beneath). The people were very kind and the room was perfect too.
What to do in Étretat?
During the evening we walked around in town and were amazed by how lovely everything looked like. A funny point was that we saw three big restaurants, but all their menu’s very exactly the same. Because Megan and I both never had France at school, it was most of the time very difficult to communicate because none of the people spoke English. Gladly, Megan could still make use of her Google Translate.
Because the weather forecast said that is was going to rain during the morning we decided to sleep out and relax the next morning. Around twelve o’clock we went for a hike to the cliff of Étretat. It was more adventures than we expected because the storm was heavier than we thought. There was no possible way to stand still because the wind was so strong. However, it was all worth it. Look at that view!
In the afternoon, we went back to the hotel and both read a bit. Because like you know, Étretat was not spectacular with restaurants Megan searched for some online, we took the car and drove along the coast to a nearby town. In the end, we could not find the restaurants which we thought of going to and because everything was dark and looked very creepy we decided to go home and just eat at one of the restaurants in town.
After dinner, we bought some beer, watched a movie and ate some of the sweets Megan brought with her.
Shopping in Le Havre
On Friday morning, we put our clock at 9 because we were going to head off to Le Havre, a big city around 30 minutes from Étretat. When we arrived in Le Havre, we were both in the mood for some shopping. So, eventually, besides making pictures with our new stuff and eating both a Ceasar Salad at one of my favourite restaurants, Paul, we only walked from shop to shop.
In the beginning, it was kind of difficult to find where the city centre was because we had not prepared ourselves. However, after walking around for like 30 minutes we found a shopping centre. Yes, indeed, the girls were happyyy.
During the evening we ate again in the restaurant where we ate the first day. We tried to start a conversation with one of the waiters because again we were almost sitting in an empty restaurant. If it would have been a small restaurant it would not have caught our eyes, but because all the restaurants had a lot of tables, it did. With the help of Google Translate, we could ask our question and the waiter told us that Étretat is very touristic during the summer and spring, and then all the restaurants are full. Now, it was more off-season.
After my first blog about settling down in Santiago (if you have not read it yet you really missed something) it is now time for some extra fun and get to know the surroundings and show you me life in Santiago. Santiago has more neigbourhoods than Las Condes (where I live) and Vitacura (where I work). I have the activities I did listed for you and I hope that you get as excited as I am when I am rereading this text.
Skiing in El Colorado
Yes, you read that well! I went for skiing, on a Saturday to be exact, with my supervisor from work (Christian) and two friends of him. On Friday we went to the ski rental because on Saturday morning 7:15 Christian picked me up. It took us around one hour and 15 minutes + 41 harpen bends. They warned me already and asked if I have a weak stomach; and yes oh I really do have one. Gladly, I survived without getting sick. The drive to the top of the mountain was so extremely beautiful with the dawn. I really wanted to make pictures to show you, but I also really needed to think about myself (at those moments I can get sick from looking on my phone for one sec).
Don’t worry, I will make it up to you, because I took some amazing shots on the top of the mountain. But first the area. There are like three or four different area’s there. We went to El Colorado, because it is the less busy one, and indeed it was. I think that until 11:00 we were the only one on the slopes which is quite a big difference for me compared to Austria and Italy.
This picture you see here below, I just really wanted to show you. I was smiling when I saw this, because in Austria and/or Italy I have never seen that before. However, I could really use one from time to time. I think it is very nice that they provide this for us.
Further, I just found it so nice and magical to be there. Although, it was also sort of weird because I expected totally something else than in Austria and Italy. Besides the smaller area, tissues provided and a beautiful view, it was all the same. The kids’ classes, the lifts (although they were a bit old), the restaurants plus singer, and the whole atmosphere. I had an amazing day!
A night out
Although I am working and sort of getting into that lifestyle, I am still 21 and super young. Jep, I went out. On a Wednesday night to a student party called: Miercoles Po.
So, back in the time when I was younger we (my parents, brother and sis) used to go to the camping for some years in Spain with different families from our village and with one of the families we also used to go on wintersport every year. One of the sons, Jesse, studies here in Santiago until November and we decided it would be nice to meet. We first just thought about a drink, but then Jesse asked if I wanted to come with them to the party (he is here with three friends from school) and had dinner at their place. The plan was made!
Until now, I have not really thought about missing home, because I found my place here and everything is good. However, I liked it so much to have some Dutchies around me and especially Jesse then of course. At home, we do not see each other or talk a lot because we have our owns lives now you know, but I just find it so incredible that when you meet, it is like nothing ever changed.
Before we went to the party, we did a pre-drink at a house of their friends. Lots of new people, lots of new names, don’t know any of theirs anymore of course, but they were all very nice and I felt welcome! After a while, the Latino’s grabbed a guitar and started to play and sing. Yeah, can you imagine. It was magical. For them like almost the most normal thing to do, but for us, not. Those moments that you will keep with you forever, this is one of them.
The party was also nice. I liked the music and place itself. Woman get in for free in nightclubs here and men sometimes. Besides that, did Jesse tell me that I should take care of my belongings because there usually are a lot of pickpockets. So, for the first time in my life I put my phone in my bra and all my cards in another part of my bag. Gladly, nothing happened and everything went well!
And yes, I needed to work the other day (slept 3 hours) and yes, I needed until Saturday to recover. But, all worth it people, all worth it, only not for every week haha.
The neighbourhood Santiago (Centre)
Santiago has totally 33 neighbourhoods and even in those neighbourhood there are different parts. Some are very big (like Las Condes), but some also very small.
This last weekend I went twice to Bella Vista which was between 30/40 minutes by Uber. Lots of people told me that it is very “a life” over there and I cannot say they were not right about that. I went twice for dinner (Friday and Saturday) and on Saturday we (Jesse, his friends, and me) also went to a karaoke bar. We laughed a lot!
The reason why I like it so much, is because everything is so close to each other with many restaurants, bars, and little shops. There is a place, called “Patio” (totally called Patio Bella Vista) where those three come more together. On Saturday, there was even a small dance show going on in the middle of the Patio. It was such a very nice and calm atmosphere and the food I ate was delicious, too!
On Saturday, before we went to the karaoke bar, we already had a drink together and later went to a restaurant where we had a special guest. See Cees with his eyes closed on the picture below. Cees is 72 years old (with wife and children/grandchildren at home!!) and Jesse knows him from his work in the Netherlands. He always worked on a ship and travelled around the world. Because it is such a passion of him, he still does it sometimes and helps a bit with the navigation.
This time the ship went from Rotterdam-Hamburg-Antwerp to Cartagena-Panama-Lima to Valparaiso. In Valparaiso he took the bus to Santiago and stayed here for a few days before he was heading back home (by airplane). He even also went to Patagonia, all by himself. It was such a nice dinner to share with everyone and Cees is really inspiring. I hope that he is able to continue to do this as long as he wants to.
On a Monday evening I went to Barrio Lastarria, the bohemian/hippie part of Santiago. I cycled home very fast and immediately took the Uber to the metro station Santa Lucia where Belen and I were meeting. I wanted to have a look for some new rings and earrings and because we have the same taste, she showed me lots of different stores.
After we did a bit of shopping (bought in total one tiny ring haha), we took a walk through the neighbourhood and Belen, as historical lover, told me lots of things about the buildings etc. Very interesting and funny to know. A great tour guide!
Are you ready for the sort of Monday cheat day and something which is probably going to amaze you? Yeah great, read further!
We had not eaten much that day and didn’t have dinner yet, so when Belen saw Buffalo Wafels she asked me whether I wanted to try. I had tried the typical sweet waffels with Nutella and strawberries some time, but waffels with vegetables, chicken, serrano ham and cheese not. I was/is still so weird for me to eat something like that. Still, I thought why not, I should try it once. So, I took the “Vegetarino” with tomato, lettuce, goat cheese and pepper. Besides that, do all the waffels have fries chips as topping. Really had to think of my dad, he loves them! And believe it or not, it was quite nice! Still weird (“Muy raro” in Spanish), but nice.
Playing paddle with Sebastian
Lots of people who read this blog know that I have been playing tennis throughout almost my whole life. So, when Sebastian asked me whether I wanted to play paddle with him I could not reject of course. Besides that, we paddle at home, on the beach, only call it beach tennis then haha.
How to play paddle?
I am not sure if I am giving you the exact, right explanation. However, for me, it is a combination between tennis and squash. The court is much smaller than a tennis court and you are able to use the blue walls (see on the picture). Although, the ball must first touch the ground. The counting system is the same as with tennis. The serve with paddle is not as with tennis, you first must bounce the ball on the ground and then you have to beat it cross to the other side of the field and the rally starts. Besides that, you always have to be on the same line as your partner. So, when you serve, you always have to come to the net and when the other serve you both stand on the baseline.
Another thing, it is impossible to use spin with paddle. Everything is in the volley grip. Because paddle rackets are much smaller than the one from tennis, it happened to me (too often) that I totally missed the ball because I thought he was longer haha….
I did really enjoy it. Although, using the wall was still very difficult and every time I forgot that is it possible. It is a very dynamic game and if you get the game, you can use lots of strategic tricks to make it more difficult for the other.
Last week was the fourth time that I went to Munich. Because my German friend Carmen has already showed me a lot of the city, I love to share my favourite hotspots in Munich with you. Enjoy!
The Englischer Garten is something you for sure need to visit when you are Munich. Carmen, her mom, and I just walked around there to talk and later on relaxed on a bench. During the summer lots of students come here to study or on the other hand take a break from their study and grab a beer. From the Monopteros you have an amazing view over the park and one of the most famous things about the park is the place where the experienced surfers, surf on the Eisbach, a river which flows down the Englischer Garten.
The city centre
Furthermore is the city centre full of famous shops and easily accessible by car. If you are planning to come by aeroplane or train, the underground system of Munich is not very difficult. The ones you will use the most are probably the U-Bahn (metro) and the S-Bahn (train). However, notice that also the train tracks are sometimes under the ground and that there is no place to check in. When Carmen and I were in the metro I asked her about that and she told me that a lot of people do not buy a ticket because it is rare that a ticket-collector comes. On the other hand, when he comes and you do not have a ticket you have to pay 60 euro.
My favourite restaurants
As part of my Munich hotspots here my favourite restaurants. I am still adding restaurants to my list and will let you know when I have tried them!
Well, this was a little spontaneous, a little exhausting, a little different, but on the other hand, very much appreciated, exciting and wanted. Let’s hit the road for this European road trip!
So yeah, summer was arriving and I had not planned anything yet. As most of you know, have I been sick from the beginning of this year and therefore, was my mind somewhere else. However, a good Mexican friend, Renato, is living in Spain at the moment and after not being able to see each other for four years, we were eager to try to figure something out and meet. Renato is another friend from EF by the way. To even make it better, some other EF friends were free and wanted to join. Then the question was; what are we going to do?
Hoek van Holland – Rouen
It all started in Rouen, France, where Julie lives. Julie and I had not seen each other for two years by the way. I drove to Rouen myself in around five hours and when I arrived she had made my favourite cinnamon buns, but this time vegan ones. I had never ate them in this way, but well oh well I love them.
When you don’t see your friends very often, it makes it special that when you are together just doing something is already nice, because you are together and being able to spend that time together. The normal daily things are the things that we enjoy doing the most. So, yeah what did we do? We played games, cooked, watched Netflix, relaxed, went to the gym, met her friends, and went for an afternoon sight seeing in Rouen. A typical Normandy city. I really loved the buildings.
Rouen – Versailles – Rouen
Then a few days later was honestly the day we were both most looking forward to. The reunion with Renato after four years. He flew to Paris, but since we did not think that Paris would be a good idea during this time, we decided to still make something of our day and went to Versailles. People ask us many times how that always is; these reunions, and actually don’t we ever think about it like that. It just happens naturally. We were together for nine months, 24/7. Of course, we have changed, we all do and yes, with some people we aren’t so close anymore, but for us, it just always stayed the same, as beautiful as it was at that time.
Now Versailles, a place I never really had on my “bucket list”, but for sure didn’t mind to visit. My parents had already been there and were very enthusiastic about it and so became I. The information didn’t really stayed in the mind, because of the too many impressions, but we had a lovely day together and it was insane to imagine that people lived like that many many years ago.
Yes, masks very necessary in closed places. Even sometimes on the street when we felt it was too crowded, we started to wear masks. Something that was totally different to the regulations from the Netherlands.
The next day, we stayed at Julie’s grandmothers house who has a swimming pool. We played games again, I slept since I still needed to rest several times a day, and we ate lovely. Like all the other days in France, because yeah those baguettes jummiee. I also love it that I was able to experience the French culture from much closer now. We have been going on holiday to France for already many years, but (of course) it is different when you start “living” with French people. A difference in sense of food is, for example, that they have many times dessert after dinner. Whereas, in the Netherlands, we have like a cookie or chocolate around 20:30 when we have our coffee or cup of tea. After dinner I was always too full to have dessert, whereas, in France they say: “Dessert doesn’t go to the stomach. Dessert goes to your heart.” Well, I had to get used to that ha-ha. Oh and I also tried Raclette. For my other fellow cheese lovers overhere, you gotta try that once in your life.
Rouen – Hoek van Holland
After six fantastic days in France it was time to go back home and the best part of it all was that Julie and Renato came with me. We went with two cars and again, within around five hours we arrived. It was only until almost lunch break when I got hungry and started to eat the first part of baguette while driving. Then when we did stop for lunch Julie asked whether I wasn’t hungry and I told her I already ate a big part of my baguette. Her face expression drastically changed. Apparently, it is prohibited in France to eat and drink while driving ha-ha. I had no idea.
We arrived at the end of the afternoon and we were all a little tired. We stayed at home for dinner, talked with my parents, and went to the beach house after. Again, we continued playing Qwixx, our favorite game or maybe I should say, my favorite game of the trip. It was only a little cold and windy… ha-ha.
The next day, we had breakfast at my favourite breakfast place; Pelé Surf Shack and we played Qwixx again. After that, we relaxed in the sun at the beachhouse and spend the afternoon/evening in Rotterdam. I gave them stroopwafels, poffertjes, and we ordered some Dutch beer and a typical “borrelplank”. Lots of fun, again!
The following day was the day I think they most looked forward to, Amsterdam! They both had never been there and to make it an efficient day, we started with a canal boat tour. After that, we went for a walk around the city, had lunch at the Vegan Junk Food bar (gosh, I was surprised by how delicious the food was), and finished our day at the Rijksmuseum. Gladly, Amsterdam wasn’t so busy and didn’t we need to wear our masks. Oh and of course, they ate stroopwafels again. The special ones from Van Wonderen. Loved it so much to see them enjoying themselves.
The other days were relaxing and did we hang out on the beach. I also had to work two mornings, but since the weather was great it was alright for them to stay together at the beachhouse. And yeah, I cannot say enough how much I loved showing them around and let them experience our way of doing things.
Hoek van Holland – Munich
Moving on to the next destination of our European road trip. Monday five in the morning we started driving from Hoek van Holland to Munich with one car, Julie’s. Fully packed. No space left, but it fit and we were on the road. I was sleeping at the back to the rest and Julie and Renato were changing for driver. Eight hours ahead to Munich. Although, while Renato was driving something happened.
Our police experience
Julie woke me up and told me to look ahead. The first thing I saw was a car with a blue siren on it and a text that said: “Folgen” and we Dutch people all know what that means.. ha-ha. So I told them it means ” Follow”. I asked Renato if he thought that he drove too fast but he didn’t think so. Our hearts started to beat faster, especially theirs, after I told them my parents always taught me not to just stop somewhere for “police” since there is also fake police. Gladly, that wasn’t the case and they went to a big parking place with restaurant.
So, me explaining with my good German that I understood that it looked a little weird; a full packed French car with a Mexican driver driving from the Netherlands to Munich with a French and Dutch girl. Yes, kind of suspicious. Still we all had to give our papers and later on Renato had to go with the two police men to their car. Julie and I were trying to stay calm and laugh the stress away, when from one moment to another Renato had to do a drug test. He had red eyes, which for Renato is normal because of the air differences, however, for the police men it was a reason to let him do the test. Everything was alright, obviously, and we could continue. Still, it took some time for our hearts to calm down. Buttt! We could continue our European road trip. 🙂
Number four of the group
Now it’s time to include Carmen. I guess I don’t really have to introduce her though ha-ha. Since I have been to Munich already several times and Carmen doesn’t live in the city centre, I only joined them in either the morning or morning and evening, so that I could rest/sleep the afternoon and recharge my energy. This picture below is from the first night (yes yes, sleepy heads), but wanted to show you the beers they had. Yeah, the big German beers ha-ha, Renato couldn’t stop laughing and talking about how big and heavy they were. Oh and you see Qwixx there on the left, my buddy was joining us for the whole road trip ha-ha.
We stayed in Munich for around three and a half days. I joined them for walks around the city, we visited the BMW museum, and we went to a Beer garden in the Englischer Garten. One day at the end of the afternoon I woke up and they brought Kaiserschmarrn with them for me. The best friends!
Munich – Lyon
The last destination of our European road trip. Our last reunion of the road trip, because we were heading to Matthiays. Another friend who Carmen and I hadn’t seen for four years. Carmen’s friend Sophie went with us from Munich, so that Carmen wouldn’t need to drive home alone those seven/eight hours. The weather in Lyon was very different to the weather in Munich, by the way. Munich was on some days fifteen degrees and when we arrived in Lyon is was forty degrees. For me, all fine, since I love it and it reminds me of a holiday feeling, but others, were having a harder time getting their sweat away.
Although, I was only in Lyon for around two days, I have many pictures. So, this part is even going to be more pictures than text. I do also think that pictures already show a lot, especially since explaining our relationship is indescribable. Last thing, I find Lyon a very underrated city. It is so beautiful from it’s streets to buildings, churches, restaurants and shops. It has everything. So, if you want to go on a city trip, Lyon is definitely worth to visit.
Lyon – Amsterdam
Saturday at four in the afternoon they brought me to the airport of Lyon. After sixteen days on the road, it was time for me to go home. My European road trip had finished. I cannot say enough how grateful I am to have them in my life, to experience all cultures with them and see them enjoying. It makes me utterly happy. In good and in bad times, you are in my heart. And as we always say (me still with tears): See you soon.
Although the trip to Salar de Uyuni was quite the getaway, the countryside of Santiago was quiet enough as well. Sometimes you just need to go away. You need away to recharge your battery, to find back your perspective on life. You need to get away in order to come back and see what you have. Well, the countryside of Santiago helped me a lot!
Cajón del Maipo with Belén
So, Cajón del Maipo. The countryside of Santiago. Translated as the “Box between the mountains” and a beautiful getaway place from Santiago. After I arrived home from Bogota at around three in the night, I would meet Belén at her house around twelve in the afternoon. After I unpacked and packed my bag for four days, I took the Uber to Belén. We would go first take the metro and then the bus before her dad picked us up at a town and we would then further go to the village they live in called; El Ingenio. In total, it is around one and a half hour to arrive.
Belén her parents have their holiday house in El Ingenio for already many many years. They were the first ones in the village. The house is literally amazing and feels as if you are in Austria because of the style (all wooden). Besides that, the view which they have is so wonderful.
I am now wondering if I have ever introduced Belén to you? Because I actually do not think that I did.. “oh-oh impolite Isa”. So, Belén and I know each other from England. Since I am here in Chile, we have met a few times and we really get along. No expectations or anything, just all very relaxing. So, yeah that was this long weekend too. We slept, ate, read, talked and relaxed a lot. We played Catan with the neighbours (Daniel and his girlfriend Claudia) and went to a place called Embalse El Yeso (I will tell you later about that).
A funny thing to know is that their neighbours are like family. They share lunch and dinner together very spontaneous and just come by without telling like it is the most normal thing to do. I like that, so relax and no worries at all.
Rayuela con Terremoto
We also played a game called Rayuela and drunk Terremoto with it. Terremoto means earthquake in English and it is a mix of alcohol (sort of white wine), pineapple ice cream and a very sweet/sugar full sirup. Nope, I did not like it, but I liked the game Rayuela and according to the locals I was quite good for the first time playing it. You throw an iron oval “thing” from 7 metres, as close as possible to the white line in the middle. You have two changes and play with a partner against two others. Easy as it is; the couple with their “iron oval things” as closest to the white line in the middle, win points. The ones who have as first ten points win! Belén and I ended up in the finals but lost, because they were very good with lots of experience (just old men actually, oopsie… haha)
Another thing I told you what we did was eating. During the afternoon, they eat big, but for me, that is like big. Besides that, I stopped eating meat but every lunch there was meat. I liked it and thought why not, I just try it another time and see how my body reacts, was a bad idea people, a bad idea…
Embalse El Yeso
On Saturday morning the weather allowed us to go to Embalse El Yeso. We woke up at eight and left around 9:30. The last week it had snowed, therefore the top of the mountains were white. They called me “the lucky woman”.
The road was quite bumpy because of the stones and in the end, it was even closed. We needed to walk the last bit. Welcome to the real countryside of Santiago. No problem for me, I was happy about stretching my legs again after a while haha.
We arrived at the Laguna made pictures, played a bit in the snow and Daniel who has lots of knowledge about all this place explained to me about the water system.
All the water that comes from the Andes mountains goes into a big tube to Santiago. There is only like that one important thing. If you would try the water over there, it is insanely clean. In Santiago, as I also experience it really is not! By the way, I do not drink water from the tap in Santiago. A few times per week I walk on the street as a clumsy person. Too many water bottles to carry in my hand and let one drop once in a while.
Another thing about water. Belén told me that I should wash my hair while I am there. So, I did and really, the first eight hours I could not stop talking about the fact that my hair was so extremely soft and shiny. Now my hair was just naturally perfect. All thanks to the water!
It was finally time to go to the country of my dreams; Italy. Not that I am obsessed with it but I would describe it as a sort of desire that I have had to life here. By the way, welcome back lovely readers. Ready for this four-month reading adventure about Florence and Tuscany? Cause I am super excited to write about it.
Arrival in Italy
I arrived last Thursday at my apartment together with my amazingly heavy two suitcases and backpack. I definitely did not look like a tourist or at least I hope not. It is sort of my goal for those four months to not look like a tourist. It may be hard to accomplish with light blue eyes, but you know, worth giving it a try ha-ha.
Friday was the introduction day of school. I will be studying at the Universita of Degli di Firenze, probably until Christmas. The University is a 30minute walk and I think I will keep it that way, so no bike or tram card. It is a nice walk, although, for now, I still have to get used to the warm climate. Wherever I go I arrive as if I just came from my spinning classes, not very convenient but also the way I am – not a slow walker.
I was looking forward to the introduction day, exciting as I would call it because who was I am going to meet? When I arrived we had to sign ourselves up and put a sticker with your name and country on your chest. I had already seen some Dutch people and, in the end, I was right about that. The management made groups for the day and I was in the group together with seven other Dutch people. It was fun, nice and comfortable to spend the day with them and to get to know them. The thing, I only found a little weird is that the management put all the people from the same country in the same group. Probably easier for them, but since everything was very international I would mix it up…
Friday night, we went out for dinner together – The Dutchies “three boys, three girls” – but went back home early in the evening because Saturday we went to a beach party from ESN (Exchange Student Network – organisation that organises activities and trips for students) and had to be somewhere at 9:15. It was one and a half hour driving and we were with around 100 students. The beach was relaxed and lovely, although, according to the others, the sea was very cold ha-ha. Because 80% of the people at the beach party was Spanish they dominated the music genre, which was no problem for me, because, what many of you probably know is, that I love Spanish music and communicating in Spanish. So, the day went by, more people got drunk and/or sunburned, and at 18:30 we went back to Florence, although, the party day was not over for us yet. Everyone went back to their apartments and dressed up for a night out in Florence. For me, it was the first time and I was super exciting/sort of could not wait ha-ha. It was already so nice to see the people on the streets. Like the real mediterranean lifestyle.
We went to two nightclubs; Babylon and Bamboo. I went with four other Dutchies, by the way, the three guys and Frederique. One night club was better than the other, just because of the number of people compared to the amount of space. By the way, the beach party was not the only party where the Spanish dominated. In both night clubs, there was a lot of Spanish music and, therefore, I was of course totally in my element. Here, in Italy, I am living my dream.
After a relaxing Sunday afternoon, Frederique and I met at, already one of our favourite restaurant called La Menagere before we went up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. It was again a sweaty walk, but more than worth it. Here some pictures below.
Five Dutch people (Jesse, Tom, Larissa, Sanne, and I) who flew for four days from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Another stamp in our passports and another country/city which we could tick from our wishlist. We were so ready for the tango, sun, lots of wine, and they for the meat, too, obviously. Ready for a citytrip with activities in Buenos Aires.
Welcome to Buenos Aires
For the ones who need some help with their geography, Buenos Aires is a city with over three million inhabitants, located at the South-East of Argentina and close to the sea. From the moment we arrived (Saturday around 11:30 in the morning), it was already different compared to Santiago: the sun was shining and the temprature was higher than we were used to. It was even that, the weather forecast had told us that the whole weekend was going to be sunny. You should think of 24-26 degrees. Eventually, without maybe wanting it, we kept comparing the both cities, Santiago and Buenos Aires, continiously.
Before we start with the acitivities in Buenos Aires, something about the architecture. The architecture in most of the neighbourhoods felt more as if we were in France or Italy than in Argentina. Maybe that is also the reason why I/we like this city much more than Santiago, because it reminded us more of home, of Europe? The people were also different in a positive way, happier and I think I can speak from all of us, prettier, too ha-ha. No offence to Chile, because from what I have seen up until now, it is a beautiful country. However, I have thought about what a pity it maybe is that I am living in Santiago. I feel that the more I am going to other places, the more I am starting the dislike the city. So yeah, when I would go back to the South of Latin-America, I would choose Buenos Aires over Santiago.
Another thing that really catched my eye is that there were so many parks. Apperently, we weren´t the only one looking for activities in Buenos Aires ;). Everything was beautiful, clean, and open with lots of grass and benches. On Monday the Argentines were free, just like the Chileans, so with forgetting that, we went to a park called: Rosario, and really I have never seen such a busy park. It felt as if I was in Disneyland.
The value of the currency
Buenos Aires is a modern, open, airy, and lively city. Although the city is almost on the ground due to their economic crisis, nothing is shown and all restaurants and bars, were most of the time full. In general, everything was really affordable for us, except that shopping was not. It was even that when I was looking for red Allstars and saw a blouse in Zara, the others told me that they were probably going to be cheaper in Chile. Even though, Chile is much more expensive in general. Can you understand it? Nope, I don’t.
The prices in the restaurants were so affordable for us, that I would not say that we ate scantily. Most of the evenings we ate for ten/fiftheen euro per person with wine and various dishes included. A bottle of wine, for example, is around four euro. The exchange rates are: 1 euro = 41,95 Argentian Pesos. So, when we were still at the Airport in Santiago and changed our Pesos, we all got packages of money. This, mostly, because 100 and 500’s are given from the banks. We didn’t know what to do with all the money, because for the most of us, it didn’t even fit in our purse or wallet. It is a weird feeling, how rich you can feel with so much cash, even though, it is worth nothing. To give you a better idea; the amount of money that I am holding in my hand on the picture is fifty euros. Yeah, funny right?
What kind of activities in Buenos Aires?
Neighourhoods Palermo, Recoleta, and La Boca.
Our Airbnb was in the neigbourhood Palermo, which is according to the internet and the opinions from lots of people, the best neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires. Yes, you have my vote, too. It was lively and young with many bars, restaurants at the corners of the streets, although most of the neighbourhood is made for living. Whereas, Recoleta, isn’t very different from that, but do have bigger buildings and where the part of living is less than in Palermo. La Boca on the other hand is something totally different than the other two and therefore, I will talked about that a bit more.
So, the second day we took the amazing touristic Hop on-Hop off bus through the city and also La Boca. Due to the fact, that La Boca is a neighbourhood where lots of people advise you not to go to during the evening, we didn’t know what to expect from it during the day. Therefore, we decided to have a look at it from the bus.
In the end, it was all fine and we decided to go another day for the free walking tour at eleven in the morning, which we in the end did not do, because we arrived at twelve. Yeah, we are getting that Latin-American mindset while starting with activities in Buenos Aires. Still, no worries, because walking around by ourselves really wasn’t dangerous or anything. I didn’t feel unsafe for a second. It was even more that I loved the neighbourhood so much; the colors, the vibe, and happy faces. Something which I didn’t expect before we arrived.
Tour to Tigre
The same day we had a tour to Tigre. Larissa had already been there also and told us that it was going to be so something different from the city. We went with a little tourbus of totally around ten persons and took us around 45 minutes, I think, to get there. We were like the five least interseting listeners, because after all, we were all sleeping. One of the best activities in Buenos Aires, I guess.
Tigre is a village, but not just a normal village. It is like Venice but than 2.0 ha-ha or should I maybe say: ‘It is like Venice but than in the Argentinian way.’ The point is that it so didn’t feel like Argentina or Latin-America at all. It was more the idea I have of Indonesia, actually. In Tigre, the inhabitants, can only use boats to transport themselves from their house to another place. There are all islands with little piers. This place is for sure one of the activities in Buenos Aires you should do when you go there.
Besides that the weather was again amazing, it was so lovely to see the people enjoying their calmness and the kids jumping and playing in the water. In the Netherlands or Europe in general I think, we would doubt to allow our kids to swim in the river together with many boats, but here, all good – all normal. Although Larissa, also told us, that the people who live there, don’t really like us, because yeah, we were definitely not the only boat on that river.
We thought and talked about how it would be to live there and if we would like to. Another joke we made was; when you would forget something from the supermarket and your neighbour doesn’t have it either, it is not easy to get it. But that is what we thought until we saw the boat on the picture beneath. Yes, you see it well. It is a supermarket on a boat. Super handy.
Cemeterio de la Recoleta
This is like my ultimate Latin-American picture: A cemetery of houses. Why? Probably because of the Fast and the Furious that were played here and I have watched several times.
The idea is, the more money you have, so the richer you are, the bigger your grave/house is or can be. There are probably also people who maybe don’t care about it, but still. Besides that, is it most of the time not only for one person, but the whole family will be together in their house.
Sometimes we were able to look inside, but actually you don’t see a lot apart from flowers and photoframes. Most of the time, the graves where under the ground, which is still sort of obviously, but I think that here it is also a matter of space. It felt as if we were walking through a village. There were so many little streets and so many little houses. If someone would ask me how much, I really would have no idea… It was very impressive and I was happy to finally have a real picture of how it looks like instead of only seeing it in the films!
Tango, wine, and meat
If you ask foreign people about the culture of Argentina, they will probably say something like: ‘They have good red wines and meat, and they dance the tango’. And yeah, all those people aren’t wrong about that. Although, I must say that we haven’t seen much of the tango in Buenos Aires. Not that we really searched for it, but still. Only in La Boca it was possible to make a picture together with someone else in the dance pose of the tango.
The meat, yes, we are at that part now. So, meat lovers, welcome! I cannot really tell you how it was though, as you probably may know, but according to friends, it was all delicious. All paying attention to “with fat” or “without fat” would be clever, if you don’t like fat. Eventhough, I don’t eat meat, I also still eat delicious. Most of the restaurants where we ate were Steak Restaurants, but also had pasta, salads or rice, for example.
So, now for the wine, especially red wine lovers. I know you can also just buy it at Gall&Gall, but go to Buenos Aires, go to Argentina, and taste it. Although, the lable may say it is the same, it will taste different. Really delicious and sort of addictive.
I usually don’t drink a lot, because I don’t like a lot of alchohol. I do love red wine though and for that, it is great to be in Argentina. However, we decided not to go out in Buenos Aires, although Stef (a Dutch guy who does his internship in Buenos Aires and Larissa knows him from school) told us that Buenos Aires is one of the best cities in Latin-America to party, because it would ruin a day if we would.
Interesting things about Buenos Aires and Argentina
My favourite part of the blog besides the activities in Buenos Aires. First of all, I again want to say something about the parks. Because my gosh, it was really a lot. I mean the city is so green and I think that therefore, Argentinian people are also more sporty. It didn’t matter how early or late it was, there were always people cycling, walking or running through the parks. Besides that, a thing I didn’t expect. Buenos Aires has more cycling paths than Santiago.
Secondly, selling food from the bike on the streets, is something which also catched my eye. Alhough, I was sometimes doubting of the hygiene policies. They probably don’t have them and no, we didn’t try anything.
The last one. One evening we went out for dinner together with Stef. After a while, when everyone had their food and some wanted peper and salt, it wasn’t on the table. Stef told us that due to the fact that Argentinian people eat too much salt, they have a law that it is not allowed anymore to put salt on the table in restaurants. This is until the guest asks for it, because from then on it is okay to leave it on the table. That “eating too much salt” also counts for Chile by the way. Here, they put salt in everything. Believe me or not, when I once bought water in the supermarket and looked at the lable on the bottle, the amount of salt in it wasn’t zero but twelve. Yeah right, salt in water. How?
Let’s start with the Italian roadtrip from Florence to Sorrento! Florence, Rome, Naples, Sorrento, The Amalfi Coast. The Italian roadtrip is around three weeks and we will try to life all the Italian experiences and most that we can.
Starting our roadtrip in Florence
We were in Florence for four whole days. It was the place of our start of the roadtrip from Florence to Sorrento. For Tuesday we already had fixed plans because we booked a Vespa Tour for 4 hours with a lunch included. When we arrived on Sunday we were very tired and laid in bed the whole day until it was time for dinner. Our first ‘real’ pasta and oh gosh, it was delicious. Not even my favourite Italian restaurants from the Netherlands can beat up to this.
On Monday, I showed Julie the city by walking around and explaining what Florence is famous for. Because I had visited most of the churches already last year with Renato I let Julie made the decision. She did not mind not going inside, so we just relaxed and went for some shopping before we were going back to the hotel to change ourselves and get ready for dinner. We ate at Zoe, which has a kind of tapas buffet that changes every time. You can eat how much you want for just 10 euro with the drinks included. It was delicious!
Tuesday was the day, finally, I was able to fulfill one of my biggest dreams!! A Vespa tour through Tuscany. Almost fulfilling.. because I still do not have my driving license yet I was not allowed to ride the Vespa, I was the passenger, which to be honest was not bad at all. I was able to make lots of pictures and videos while Julie was riding. It was definitely one of the best days of my life, I was a very happy person. Julie had never ridden a Vespa before but she did pretty well, we really enjoyed and laughed a lot. The lunch we had was amazing, especially the view. Unfortunately, there were lots of tiger musquitos and Julie got bitten 43 times (yes, she counted them).
When we arrived back in Florence, we did not expect that we would be so tired. We just went back to the hotel, took a shower and relaxed a bit. This evening we ate at Da Garibardi. The pizza’s there are a m a z i n g !
From Florence to Rome
Thursday morning we checked out and went to the train station, our train was leaving around 11 and we were ready to go to Rome! It was 1,5 hour I think, but the time past so fast. I was watching a movie and Julie read her book. When we arrived in Rome, we first needed to walk half an hour to the hotel. We stayed at Orange Inn, however, I would not recommend you this hotel. I will tell you later why…
So, Rome! We loved it, every bit of it. Rome has so much flair. I went to Rome when I was around 12 years old with my parents, brother, and sister, and surprisingly I still really could remind some things. When Julie and I had arranged everything for the room, Tina called us that she was almost at the hotel, a friend from Germany who I also met in England, Julie and I went downstairs and there she was. Seeing her again after 2 years felt so great. Honestly, it did not really feel like that and that is what friendship is all about for me. It does not matter for how long you have not spoken to someone or seen someone, while you are back together again, it feels and is the same like it always was, it is good enough.
Now we were with the three of us and it was extremely hot in Rome, we thought it was clever to have a plan for every day because we were staying in Rome for also four whole days. On Thursday, we did not do much because before we were ready to do something it was already almost time for dinner. This time we went to Focacceria Pugi which is famous for their focaccia’s, obviously. There were so big that we were not able to finish them, but it was all worth it.
Bike tour through Rome
On Friday we had already planned something very cool. I had booked an E-bike tour for the three of us with Roman Guy. The tour lasted for 4 hours and because we were the only one who booked a tour with Roman Guy, we had a free private tour. The tour guide was a woman who had lived already in Rome for more than 7 years and showed us all the ins and outs of Rome. It was more than amazing and I really would recommend you the company.
Saturday was kind of an unexpected hectic day. Tina and I went to visit the Sint Pieters in the morning, which was beautiful!
From Rome to Naples
It was Monday morning when Tina and I took the Flixbus to Naples. Our first thought of Naples was dirty and poor. I booked an Airbnb for us in Naples and everything of the arrangement went fine. The apartment was close to the metro station and the main street, with a bakery and a restaurant. Before we went to Florence and Rome we did some research for those cities, but with Naples, we did not really know what to do. So, when we arrived there, we just walked around to have a look how the city “works”. We found a theatre, booked a tour and I am honestly still impressed. It was so beautiful! The rest of the day we just walked around, trying to find some hotspots… but it was kind of hard.
Because Naples was not really what we expected, we went to Pompeii for a day. Although the warmth was becoming too much for us sometimes, it was very impressive. We needed to stand in line for around half an hour, however, when we came in, it was so quiet and calm. This made the place even more peaceful.
Gladly that Tina and I had a lot of fun together because Naples was a once in a lifetime thing. We could have left it out of the roadtrip from Florence to Sorrento.
From Naples to Sorrento
Thursday morning, we took the boat from Naples to Sorrento. The owner of the Airbnb was so kind to pick us up at the harbour. Carmen’s arrival was at 6 o’clock in the evening and she arranged a taxi to drive her to Sorrento from Naples Airport because otherwise, it would have taken too long. She arrived at 8 o’clock, Tina and I made sure that dinner was ready so that we could eat directly. There was no perfect timing because from our terras we had an amazing view over the sea and every night we saw the dawn. I could not be happier than sitting there enjoying the view with two good friends.
Because Sorrento is mainly surrounded by rocks, there are not a lot of sandy beaches. There are mainly beach clubs with beds, where you have to pay for, on a platform. Here beneath some hotspots we went to:
Antico Bagno Di Seiano
Spiaggia La Marinella
Bagni Regina Giovanna
It was so nice to finally lay down for a day after travelling around for 2 weeks. I love to go for a swim and because it was also very warm in Sorrento, I did not have to worry about taking one. After laying down for 15 minutes, there was always one of us who said, girls, someone coming with me into the water?
Tour through Amalfi and Capri
We booked an Amalfi Drive, passed Salerno, Positano, another small town (I forgot the name…) and Ravello, it was breathtaking. It was so romantic and everything was so nice, we even did a small boat trip along the coast.
In addition, to Capri, we went by boat. When we arrived in Capri, around 12:00, we decided to go on another boat tour which took us arrived the whole island in 1,5 hour. After the boat tour, we went for some shopping and walked around, because we were a bit tired we just relaxed and took the boat back at 17:35.
The last part of our roadtrip from Florence to Sorrento
The other days, we went to a sandy beach and to a place where there were only rocks. I think I am going to call it the rocky beach to make it a bit easier. We went to the rocky beach on our last day and it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The view was amazing and the water was so clear and clean. Besides that, it reminded me so much of my childhood when I was trying to get into the water from the rocks. We all finished our books that day, the one happier than the other, but we had a great day. We ended the holiday with a dinner in the centre of Sorrento, because Wednesday we were going home.
I am still overwhelmed by the Italian nature, culture and its inhabitants. This roadtrip from Florence to Sorrento was amazing. I would recommend it to everybody.
It is great that when you come to a place on your own, you can be surprised by how quickly you make friends. Especially, when everyone comes alone. This blog is about my first week. My first EF friends.
It is Friday afternoon now and my first school week is over. I will give a short summary of everything I have done so far. On Monday I had the introduction day. We went to Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, all was the weather crap, it was very very nice. I have already met so many new people from all over the world. You cannot imagine, really. Germans, Italians, French, Spanish, Asians, Latino’s, they are all here.
Oh wait, I think I forgot to tell you why I have chosen to go to Eastbourne. So, first of all, I am a beach girl, which ends up living in a city on the coast. Kind of obvious, right? The second thing which I found important was that I wanted to go to a small school. People told me that the school in Eastbourne doesn’t have lots of students and makes you feel like you are all a family, precisely what I was looking for. I didn’t need more to convince me. Eastbourne it was.
Now back to my week. My schedule for this week was pretty good actually. I had class every day, but not the whole day. It was either or the morning or the afternoon. The lessons are Grammar, Speaking, Listening, Vocabulary, and ILAB (computer lesson). Because I am doing the Intensive Course, you can also sign yourself up for electives. I have chosen Banking&Finance, Leadership&Management, and Business English. In almost every class I am with different people, in the beginning, I was sometimes confused but now I am used to it, I like it. In this way, I am getting to know more and more people.
Until today, I have cooked every day for myself. Paula is most of the time going out for dinner with a German friend of her, called Amanda. During the evenings, I haven’t done much yet, it was raining every time…welcome to England! Tomorrow I am going to search whether I can rent a bike somewhere because the tennis park is a bit too far to walk. Oh and looking at the weather doesn’t make any sense here, because the weather changes every 10 minutes.
Until now, I have spent most of the time with 3 girls. Julie and Anouchka from France and Carmen from Germany. My first EF friends. We are not in the same classes because my level of English is a bit higher than theirs, but when we have our breaks or are finished with school we are meeting each other.