Post-Graduation European Escapades

Having returned from Europe just last weekend, I thought I’d do a post about my trip. I also thought it would be good to do this post sooner than later, as I am just now getting into my “post-graduation WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO” period. 

The whole trip was possible due to my father and stepmother’s ability to do a “house-swap” in southern France. (FYI: houseswaping isn’t nearly as interesting as “wifeswapping.”) In exchange for staying at a super sweet summer home (built in the 1970s) in the south of France, a French family visited San Francisco and stayed at my father’s home in Noe Valley. 

The trip began on May 25th, just a couple of days after my graduation from The New School, where I would proceed to travel to Barcelona, Vinca (France), Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Rome.

After arriving in Barcelona we found our way to our temporary accommodations; an apartment right in the Gothic neighborhood of Barcelona. The first day, I proceeded to walk around and indulge in the local sights and hang spots. 

Now for all those New Schoolers out there: you haven’t been to “Spain” unless you’ve really been to SPAIN (the actual country). The default beer (Estrella) that they serve at Spain Restaurant across the street from New School isnt nearly as good as the Estrella they serve in the actual country. Plus, instead of paying $5 for a bottle, I spent a mere euro for this can (about $1.35). It was great to bask in the sun and drinking beer in public (a HUGE perk of Europe):

park across the street from our apartment

After visiting Barcelona, we made out way to the southern part of France, Vinca to be exact. But on the way, we did a couple of day trips:

Montserrat  - A huge monastery located about 2 hours from Barcelona in a huge mountain. The only way to get there is by train or a pulley-like ski lift thing.

Church at Montserrat - This was just the first of MANY churches I visited. Europeans are obsessed with Jesus

Organ in the Montserrat Church - I heard this puppy get tuned while we were inside. One of the crazier auditory experiences of my life

Vinca, France - This was the view from my room in Vinca. After spending more than enough time in Vinca, I now understand why every young French teenager wants to move to Paris. There is one restaurant in Vinca, along with two bakeries and one supermarket (all of which close at noon). Quietest place I’ve ever been!

Narbonne, France - This is a segment of a road that lead to Rome. The Romans built this hella long ago. Europe is really old apparently :)

After Vinca, my sister and I ditched our parents and left for Paris. We proceeded to walk around Paris, pay far too much money for food, and see all the essential sights.  

Notre Dame, Paris - Another mildly famous/old church. (I hope you’re sensing the sarcasm at this point)

The Mona List @ The Louve, Paris - “Meh…”

what I like to call “The Original Purple Nurple” @ The Louvre, Paris

Pointe Du Hoc - Normandy, France - Just before the DDay landings, The US Ranger's task was to scale these 30 meter (100 ft) cliffs under the cover of night, approximately at 5:30, one hour prior to the landings with ropes and ladders, and then attack and destroy the German coastal defense guns, which were thought to command the Omaha and Utah landing areas. Seriously? Ropes and Ladders? This blew my mind!

Pointe Du Hoc - Normandy, France - This is what’s left at Pointe Du Hoc sixty six years later from the American bombardment the night before DDay. 

Riding in an original American Jeep at Omaha Beach. Turns out, my sister and I ended up visiting one day before the sixty sixth anniversary of DDay. Tons of Frenchman where dressed up in American/English uniforms and riding original jeeps and trucks down the beaches. We were lucky enough to catch a ride. 

Sherman Tank - My Grandfather sat in the machine gun seat of one of these tanks. 

Arc de Triomphe, Paris - My Grandfather rode his tank right under the Arc de Triomphe, just days after the liberation of Paris. Badass

Only in France…

Palace of Versailles 

Hall of Mirrors (and of tourists)

Versailles Gardens - unnecessarily extravagant 

I think Berlin was my favorite city, even though I couldn’t pronounce anything in German to save my life. Having been divided (East/West Berlin) up until 1990, Berlin was not only culturally and socially in its own realm, but aesthetically as well. Both the music scene (especially experimental) and nightlife scenes are noteworthy in Berlin. And best of all, its SUPER cheap. A full three course meal would cost around 12-15 euro. Pints were usually around 2 euro and the rent is SO cheap that I am tempted to move there myself!

East Berlin - Karl Marx Ave - 1960 Soviet architecture 

Brandenburg Gate

What remains of the Berlin Wall

Checkpoint Charlie

Amsterdam - Super Chill (DUH!)

St. Peter’s Basilica - Vatican City - Another extravagant church. The chairs set up in front are for the masses the Pope gives every Wednesday. Unfortunately I visited on a Thursday :(

Vatican Museum - Vatican City - There is a portion of the Vatican Museum dedicated to all the different vehicles that the Pope has been transported in. Everything from a carriage with six horses, to a horse and buggie, to a old 1960 Mercedes, to the most commonly known “Pope Mobile.”

TRISTAN COOLEY and I - ROME - The only picture that was taken of myself. Thanks Ashley! 

The Coliseum - Rome

Inside the Coliseum - Rome - Where’s Russel Crowe when you need him? More often than not, ancient Romans had animal fights. Anything from Bears vs. Elephants, to Tigers vs. Panthers ect. There is even record of ancient Romans filling up the floor of the Coliseum with water to reenact historical marine battles. If you fell off your boat and tried to climb out of the water, archers would be waiting on the edge to kill you. Within the first 100 days of the Coliseums opening, 3,000 people were killed inside. 

The Roman Forum - some more really old shit.

Well, that concludes this post. After travelling for almost a month, I am more than happy to be back in Brooklyn. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed reminiscing about my trip. Exciting things to come! Stay tuned!