This summer, I spent seventy days in Europe. I began my journey in Civitavecchia, Italy, where I boarded the cruise ship Celebrity Solstice with my grandmother, Amuma. Our first stop was Santorini, Greece, where the contrast of the white-washed walls with the blue sky and sea was quite a sight to behold. The next day, we made our way to Mykonos, Greece. I met Petros, the giant pelican who meanders around the town and serves as a great model for photos! The next stop on this whirlwind tour was Istanbul, Turkey, which was my personal favorite. The city actually spans out over Europe and Asia, and I was fortunate enough to go over to the Asian side to take my first steps in Asia! I visited the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque- two of Istanbul’s most famous mosques, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar. Over the two days I spent in Istanbul, I picked up a few Turkish phrases, tried many new foods, and experienced the many Turkish. As we sailed out of the Bosphorus River, I was excited for our next stop: Kusadasi, Turkey. There, we visited the ancient city of Ephesus and the house where Mary (Jesus’s mother) is believed to have lived. After our tour, we went shopping in the town market. My grandmother was offered 100 camels there for my hand in marriage! The next day, we made our way to Athens. We climbed to the top of the Acropolis where the ancient Athenians built the famous Parthenon, and after the tour finished, Amuma and I took a taxi to the National Archaeological Museum, where I was able to see many works of art I had studied! We then set sail for Naples, Rome, where I hiked 5.5 miles to the top of Mount Vesuvius and toured the ancient city of Pompeii. Finally, we headed back to Civitavecchia. Amuma and I then stayed in Rome for three days, where we toured the Vatican, the Coliseum, and countless museums. We went to Pisa, where I climbed the leaning tower and took the famous leaning tower snapshot! That same day, we took a train to Florence. At the Florence Cathedral, I climbed to the cupola and got a breathtaking view of the city, the Baptistry, and Campanile of the complex. I saw countless works of art, including Michelangelo’s “David”. In Venice, after touring Saint Mark’s Cathedral, we took a Gondola ride to dinner and then walked back to our hotel via the Rialto Bridge, where I bought beautiful Murano glass jewelry! I headed to Spain where I have family, and in Barcelona, I toured the city’s incredible soccer stadium, along with artist Gaudi’s masterpieces–the houses he designed and the church “La Sagrada Familia”. I flew from Barcelona to Madrid to meet up with family. We toured the palace and cathedral of Madrid, and the Real Madrid Stadium. We ate at a famous flamenco restaurant, where I met Mikhail Baryshnikov! We spent a few days in La Rioja (wine country). We stayed at a famous hotel designed by Frank Ghery called Marques de Riscal. After a few weeks, I went to live with a family in San Sebastian. We went to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls and had a balcony on the route! It was so cool to feel the atmosphere and witness everyone dressed in white with red scarves as they celebrated their patron saint’s (San Fermin) feast day. Over these two and a half months, I experienced many different cultures and traditions, and I hope to return to Europe again someday.
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