All In The Family

Monday, July 10:

I started writing this post back in May after moving from Murcia to Barcelona. Naturally, amid trying to settle into a new city, adjusting to a new working schedule, and attempting to master the art of thesis writing (which didn’t go quite as planned), time got away from me and here we are on July 10th revisiting a long lost blog post. I’ve done a bit of traveling since visiting beautiful Italy with my family and I have some serious catching up to do. It’s nice to relive these moments and memories after an early and unexpected arrival home this July.

Monday, May 22nd:

I have been meaning to post about the amazing time I spent in Spain and Italy with some of my closest family back in March. It’s been challenging since their departure, but the memories are worth it all. Shortly after I said farewell to my Mother, Grandmother, Great Aunt, and my Mom’s dear friend Robin, I had to say farewell to Joey for two months. We were all able to create some really fond memories in some amazing, European places and saying “see you soon,” was really tough. Classes at UCAM were wrapping up and we were faced with the new challenge of heading our separate ways for a while and departing for our internships. I was set to stay in Murcia until June until my original internship plans took an unexpected turn. Contract agreement issues meant I could no longer intern in Menorca and I had to find something new and STAT!

Since May 2nd, I’ve found myself in Barcelona for an internship in hospitality and what a month it has been. Anticipating the move here alone was stressful, yet exciting, but unfortunately the flat I had reserved to rent for the following four months was not quite as it seemed and Barcelona quickly became overwhelming. I am still managing here with the help of my roommate Sofia, but thankfully I make my way out on the first of June and wish I could take her with me! Finding a new place to call home for three months has been quite a challenge. After contacting nearly 75 landlords, agencies, and roommates in a period of four weeks, I still have yet to confirm and secure a place to live. My budget had to be raised or standards had to be significantly lowered and on a tight time frame, I had to dedicate any spare moment to searching for, contacting, and viewing multiple flats. This month has certainly been the most challenging during my time abroad, but I would do it all over again for the growth and learning that has come from it. Great friends, amazing family and many FaceTime’s home have gotten me through the discouraging days.

On a more positive note, let me share with you some of the memory making we did with the family in March! The ladies arrived in Murcia the day before my birthday, after spending a few days on their own in Barcelona. We picked them up at the train station and with two feet and a heartbeat, we all walked back to their hotel with some hefty luggage in tow! This was the first of a lot of “lugging” around we did. The ladies stayed at NH Amistad Murcia, a great four star hotel for a super reasonable price right in the heart of Murcia’s city center and conveniently located just down the street from our then apartment. Oh how I miss Calle Gomez Cortina, 13, 1C! I would take that apartment and all its little nuisances back in a heartbeat. We decided we’d take the family to Mano a Mano one of our all time favourite places in Murcia for fresh made pizza and empanadillas. We enjoyed a much anticipated first meal together after not seeing one another for six months, where good wine and great company was enjoyed all around. Since I still had a few mornings of work and an evening left of class ahead of me, the ladies took advantage of a couple shopping days in the city centre. I was lucky to have my birthday off and spent the day with them showing them our city, taking them for delicious Murcian food, and stealing their Spanish coffee virginity, which they loved! The next couple of days for me were quite normal and quiet, but any spare moment I had I spent with them showing them everything Murcia has to offer. The Thursday evening was my graduation ceremony since our class was separating and would be together for the last time in Murcia. I couldn’t wait to show them my beautiful school. The family was cordially invited and I even surprised them with a speech I had been voted to prepare by my class. Following the graduation, we went for tapas. Their time in Spain wouldn’t have been complete without them! During their last day in Murcia, I took Mom and Robin to Castillo de Monteagudo, Murcia’s iconic statue of Christ overlooking the entire city. Grandma and Aunt Dee stayed back to do what they do best – shop! I was so thrilled to share this unique part of my life with them and show them a place that I will forever cherish.

Next stop was Venice. We took a short flight into Bologna where we picked up a train that took us right into the heart of Venice. It was breathtaking. I couldn’t imagine a more unique or beautiful place and was so excited to finally visit this amazing little city. It proved not to be so little after all, especially with the amount of stairs lurking around each corner and over every canal. Venice was the first city we have visited where no plans were necessary. Getting lost in the streets was enchanting enough and no tour or guide book could have suggested a better way to experience what is Venice. Of course there were a couple of must see’s and do’s like St. Mark’s Square, Palazzo Ducale, Grand Canal and a gondola ride! Joey hunted down a great gondolier named Luca who arranged a personal ride for five beginning in the old Jewish Quarter. Gondoliers in Venice were often referred to as unfriendly and not worth the expense on TripAdvisor, but we didn’t have enough good things to say about Luca. If you are ever in Venice and searching for a wonderful gondola experience in one of the city’s oldest and well preserved gondolas, contact Luca at luckyluca6@hotmail.com. He will not disappoint (and may even sing you a traditional Venetian song on your journey if you ask nicely).

After a couple of days exploring Venice, we made our way to Florence. Another short train ride got us to our next destination – one of the beauties of European travel. Once again we arrived without a plan, waiting to see where the city took us. We checked into another amazing Airbnb, hosted by the lovely Francesca. She had a selection of fruits, pastries, juice and wine upon our arrival. Of course we were hungry after a morning of travel, so we made our way to Mercato Centrale for a delicious selection of antipasto and wine, pasta and arancini, and most certainly…gelato! There are vendors upon vendors in this trendy indoor market where you can enjoy a seated lunch or pick up prepared meals, fresh fruit, fish, meats, you name it – to take home with you. After another incredible Italian meal, we wanted to get into the city as we only had a couple of days here before heading to Pisa and back to Spain. Pictures tell a better story of our days in Florence and Pisa, where we wandered the streets in search of beautiful, picturesque views, unique architechture and delicious food. This is exactly what Florence had to offer. The Florence Cathedral and many of the religious buildings, including the Florence Bapitstery and Piazza del Duomo were beautiful and full of character, with similar style. Ponte Vecchio was a stunning bridge over the Arno River separating the two sides of the city, surfaced with shops and jewelry stores. Piazza della Signoria could be overseen from Palazzo Vecchio, where we climbed to the highest point for an incredible view of this historic, Italian city at dusk. Our trip to Florence wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Statue of David in Galleria dell’Accademia. Thankfully for Joey’s fondness of panoramic city views, we made our way to Piazzale Michaelangelo, where the entire city of Florence could be viewed from yet another remarkable perspective. It was here where I truly realized the beauty and fulfillment that travel brings me and Florence quickly made its way to the top of my favourites list.

Monday, July 10th:

Our departing flights to Murcia and the family’s to London were out of Pisa. We took this opportunity to see all that Pisa had to offer – The Leaning Tower. I would liken Italy’s Pisa to our Niagara Falls – not much to boast about other than this remarkable tourist attraction. Our few hours in Pisa began on a high note, but slowly took a turn for the worst as we managed to find Italy’s worst pasta and Robin got pick-pocketed entering the city bus. Needless to say, Pisa didn’t quite make the list. I’ll leave you with some pictures to tell the remainder of this travel story. Until next time!

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