October 2nd

Let me start by saying I can’t believe it’s October.

Two weekends ago LdM bussed a group of students to Lake Como and the Swiss Alps. We stayed one night at a hotel in Sankt Moritz, Switzerland. I didn’t believe in love at first sight before I met Switzerland. Although I’m not a huge fan of pulling out my scarves and leather jacket in mid-September, Switzerland was more than worth it. We tasted real Swiss hot chocolate and got a taste of the local pub nightlife. Both were fantastic.

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At the pub, called Stübli, 20-30 year old (mainly) men socialized with their friends at long wooden tables, while drinking tall glasses of beer and singing/screaming along with the live musician. As soon as we walked in, I turned to my friends and mouthed, “I just fell in love.” That’s the only thing that can describe my experience with Switzerland—love at first sight. Having a normal-ish sized shower and a comfortable bed was just the icing on the cake.

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After some bus malfunctions, we finally got home after midnight on Sunday. The next day was spent preparing for Tuesday classes and two girls’ 21st birthdays. Thursday night a couple of our friends were nice enough to invite us over for dinner and we had a wonderful little family, homecooked meal with an adorable little dog waiting for spills by the side of the table. Just like home.

Friday morning I began my long-awaited trek over to Portugal. One of my roommates and I walked over to Santa Maria Novella station at 7:30 am to catch our train to Bologna. Then, we took the aerobus to the Bologna airport. She was going to Porto, another city in Portugal north of Lisbon, and her flight was on time. My flight, of course, was delayed over an hour so I gave myself a nice long self-guided tour of the Bologna airport. I finally landed in Lisbon and took a cab over to the Independente hostel and got ripped off by the taxi driver. It was a long patience-testing day, but once I stepped into the hostel I knew it’d be worth it. I immediately met two very sweet German girls and we made plans to walk up to the flea market the next morning. The market was great until a sudden rain shower on us. Later that day I joined a 3 hour walking tour and, again, got soaked in the rain. There I was, dripping wet flip-flops in hand, walking the streets of Lisbon without raincoat, umbrella, or boots. Not ideal, but it was a nice icebreaker for meeting new friends. Later that night I ordered salmon at a traditional Portuguese/Indian restaurant. It was perfect. Portugal definitely wins for seafood.

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The famous, overpriced Lisbon tram.

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Me, on the way up to the flea market, minutes before the rain. I had no idea.

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The surfing crew. Best part of the trip by far.

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The next morning I woke up, grabbed breakfast at the hostel, and got picked up by a dude with Raybans, sun-bleached hair, blue flat bill, and tan skin. Oh, driving a green wrangler. As if it’s not already obvious, we were going surfing. We picked up three more study abroad students at another hostel, then drove to the beach to meet the other guide. We pulled into a parking lot filled with cars and surfing boards, squeezed on our wetsuits, and carried our boards into the water. After a couple hours of catching waves, and getting slammed by more, we all returned to our respective hostels. These couple hours made all the previous Portuguese frustrations worth it.

The next morning I started my journey back to Florence, and arrived just in time for a fun night out and an exhausted next day of classes. Now, it being Thursday, I will finally unpack my Lisbon bag, and repack for Munich. Tomorrow night, it’s off to Oktoberfest.

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