Lingerie & Fois Gras

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January 5th 2010
Published: January 7th 2010
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Rooftop of Gaudi
Back on the road…. finally! For the past 1.5 years I have been going to school in the evenings (and weekends) to get my MBA. Needless to say it has really cut into my ability to travel, among other things. So when the opportunity to spend a few weeks in Europe “studying” came…well I jumped on it! So here I am back in Europe after 8 years. My last trip here was after I graduated from William and Mary, my friend Tony and I spent a few months doing the backpacking Eurorail thing. I was eager get back here and check things out after being away for so long.

So the plan was to spend 3 weeks traveling to 4 countries in Europe with a study abroad program called Forum-Nexus that is based out of two European Universities (Ramon Lull and Catholic University of Milan). It was a win-win situation since the credits for this program where a lot less expensive then my schools credits, so I basically got to travel through Europe for free.

Just as a disclaimer - I plan on focusing more on my individual experience traveling through these countries then I
La Sagrada FamiliaLa Sagrada FamiliaLa Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia
do talking about class, and the people that I met through this program.

Barcelona, Spain

So onto the travel part of the travel blog; I spent the first few days in Barcelona Spain. I saw all the main sights - the Gaudi architecture, the Gothic Quarter, and numerous churches including the impressive Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. One of the most interesting sites was a tour of Casa Batlló - a house that Gaudi created for a Spanish couple. I haven't included any photo's in this blog but the house itself (except the roof) was extremely wackie - the local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), and it definitely has a skeletal quality.

A few interesting observations:

* I was amazed by the number of lingerie stores in Barcelona! I’m not exaggerating when I say that there were 2 on every street block. What does that tell you about the Spanish Culture?

* Tapas were the name of the game as far as food goes in Barcelona. It was just about impossible to eat anything but Tapas - so I had plenty of those little suckers - ham, chicken, mussels, octopus, cheese, peppers,
New Years 2010New Years 2010New Years 2010

Happy New Years from Paris!
the works.

* In the main shopping and restaurant areas (Las Ramblas) the streets were absolutely packed every night with people just walking here and there (see image) and it’s the middle of the winter! I’m assuming it was so busy because it was around the Holidays, but I’m not sure.

* In addition to classes for school I had a chance to go on an official visit to two really interesting businesses (1) Bodages Torres Winery (2) Barcelona Stock Exchange. These visits are interesting because we typically get a chance to have a behind the scene look at places that tourists wouldn’t get to see.

* I discovered a new favorite snack in Barcelona - CHURROS. Which I believe is somewhat common in Latin countries. It is basically a long skinny doughnut that you dip in a big bowl of melted chocolate. It was pretty incredible but I can’t imagine that it was too healthy for me (Haley, I’m trying to work on that).

* The Cathedral of Santa Eulalia was a really impressive church and what was more interesting was the story of the girl the church was dedicated to: wikipedia says the following:

"The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona, a young virgin who, according to Catholic tradition, suffered martyrdom during Roman times in Barcelona. One story is that she was exposed naked in the public square and a miraculous snowfall in mid-spring covered her nudity. The enraged Romans put her into a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled it down a street"

Paris, France

* So after a few days in Spain my group took an overnight train into Paris arriving on the 31st - just in time for New Years. The time in Paris was actually somewhat uneventful due to the amount of classes that we had and the fact that I went to Bruges, Belgium for the weekend (which I’ll get to later).

* New Years was the main activity for our time in Paris (HAPPY 2010!). For the night of the 31st we had made ambitious plans to celebrate at the Eiffel Tower AND the famous street called Champ-Elyees (which was kind of similar to a Time Square type thing where everyone fills the streets). The entire Forum-Nexus group came out to party (about 30 of us) each with their
Las RamblasLas RamblasLas Ramblas

Look how packed it is at night here!!
bottle of Champaign in hand!

* The city planned a light show at the Eiffel Tower, which was actually pretty impressive (see images). After that we headed over to a traditional pizza place on the Champ-Elyees where we had reservations. After a filling meal of pizza and vino we headed out to the streets to celebrate the countdown with the 10’s of 1000’s of Frenchies.

* By this time I was on extreme bread overload - ALL the street food in Barcelona consists of only meat and cheese on baguettes - so I had a ton of those. In Paris all the street food consists of meat and cheese on baguettes - so I had a ton of those…bread, bread, bread…ugh! Everything you order comes with bread.

I didn't get a chance to see and do as much as most typical tourists in Paris so I'm really glad that this was my second time around.

So that is a very quick overview of my time in Barcelona and Paris, up next is a side trip to Brugge, Belgium and then Interlaken, Switzerland 😊 I hope all is well at home!

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Cathedral of Santa EulaliaCathedral of Santa Eulalia
Cathedral of Santa Eulalia

Cathedral of Santa Eulalial in the Gothic district

The wines of Bodegas Torres
The Forum Nexus GroupThe Forum Nexus Group
The Forum Nexus Group

Here is my crew
Forum NexusForum Nexus
Forum Nexus

Our group in front of the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower at SunsetEiffel Tower at Sunset
Eiffel Tower at Sunset

The Eiffel Tower at Sunset
New Years on the Champs-ElyseesNew Years on the Champs-Elysees
New Years on the Champs-Elysees

New Years on the Champs-Elysees

The Champs-Elysees looking at the Arc
Sacre Coeur churchSacre Coeur church
Sacre Coeur church

Sacre Coeur church at sunset
Louve Louve

The outside of the Louve

7th January 2010

Hey!!! Happy New Years brother!!! Your pics, as always, look amazing, and Im glad youre having such a great time... dont worry so much about all the bread... you get to go back to the winter in the states in plenty of time to shed those pounds for the summer and most importantly the wedding!!!! woohoooo!!!!!
7th January 2010

I can't believe the Champs-Elysees picture, amazing! Can't wait to hear about your Belgium weekend and the crazy things you'll probably be doing in Switzerland. Travel safe!
7th January 2010

Thanks for Update
Great hearing from you and seeing all your wonderful pictures. The header picture in Paris is outstanding. By the clothes you are wearing, it appears that it is cold in France. We have daytime temperatures in the low 20's in Michigan and about 10 inches of snow. The lake is not yet frozen completely. We celebrated Grandma's 84th birthday, first in Detroit with Jay and Devon's families, and then here at Mullett. We hosted a dinner party last night that included a couple from down the lake. Today we are celebrating the Russian New Years over at Martha's, and then watching the championship football game tonight. Love, Mom and Dad
9th January 2010

City of Lights
What a beautiful picture of the Arc. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. What differences have you noticed from traveling your first time at 22 to now, a well seasoned over thirty traveler? Don't forget to bring home some Swiss chocolates, clothing from Milan, leather goods from Venice, etc. Looking forward to more emails and travelblogs. Stay safe, study hard and enjoy your trip (but not too much since you are without Haley).
6th October 2010

The photos for this blog are really great.

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