Two Weekends, Two Cities

These past two weeks have flown by for me! I have finally ventured out of Italy and taken on two new countries: the Czech Republic and Spain. Both trips were outstanding and I got to spend some time with both old friends and new.

The weekend before last, I visited Prague in the Czech Republic. Prague was never on my list for “must-see cities” when I arrived in Florence, but a friend in my API group convinced me to go on a whim. And boy—am I glad I did! The city was absolutely gorgeous and had a sort of fairytale feel. Many of the buildings had ornate baroque architecture in eye-catching colors that reminded me of something out of Disney. The food was absolutely delicious, too. I had no concept of what kind of food the Czech ate before arriving in Prague, but it seems similar to what I think of as German food. Between tender wiener schnitzel, simple párek v rohlíku (or Czech hot dogs), and, my favorite, beef goulash soup, it is easy to say that meat was the staple of every meal I ate. Food prices were very cheap, too – our first dinner, which included four hearty entrees, eight drinks, and three desserts, totaled around fifty US dollars! Although I would have liked to pick up some of the Czech language to use at meals or while paying, my friends and I could not figure out how to pronounce anything for the life of us. The only word we learned was “pomoc,” which, as the guide of our haunted Prague walking tour told us, means “help!”

For the past week, I spent my spring break in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a city I’ve been yearning to visit for years, so I was thrilled when my friends from home agreed upon it for our European reunion. The city, although a little bigger than Florence, had a similar atmosphere to the Italian cities I’ve visited so far. Both countries seem to have a mixed bag of Gothic and Romanesque architecture in the cultural areas of the city. Although Barcelona had one thing that I have yet to see in Italy: beautiful, sandy beaches! The weather was just warm enough for my friends and I to visit the beach on a few different occasions—the perfect time for some well-needed, post-midterms relaxation! Barcelona also had ample options for some good retail therapy. There were plenty of pedestrian-only streets off of Las Ramblas with adorable, unique boutiques. I also got to communicate with some locals in Spanish throughout my trip—finally, a long awaited opportunity to put my 10+ years of Spanish classes to use! Although I’m far from fluent, the locals in Barcelona were very encouraging with my attempts to speak Spanish. One café barista even applauded when I made a made a nervous attempt to ask for a ham and cheese croissant in Spanish.

I had an amazing time traveling these past two weekends, but I’m happy to be back in Florence. The weather is getting pretty warm – enough so for sandals and short sleeves. I’ll just have to remind myself of all the Italian I’ve learned this semester in hopes of blocking out the Spanish I’ve used this past week; the two are surprisingly similar! I just have to remember: it’s not gracias—it’s grazie; it’s not por favor—it’s per favore. Wish me luck!

Ali Bozzuto is a student at Skidmore College and an official API Student Blogger.  Ali is studying with API in Florence, Italy.

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