London Eye | Holiday semester in Rome, Santorini and Athens | Culture

Hello from Athens, Greece. It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year – the fall break – and I spend 10 days traveling around Europe with six other students. We started in Rome, then we went to Santorini, Greece, and we end in Athens.

When in Rome

We had the moments of our life in Rome. We stayed in a hostel which really worried me at first. I imagined a crude little place where we had to share our room with strangers and lock up our things, but it wasn’t like that at all. We booked a room for the seven of us with our own bathroom – no strangers. It was within walking distance of everything, and there was a bar downstairs with cheap drinks and a fun bartender. What more could you want?

Once we knew we would be safe and comfortable at the hostel, we started to have a great time.

It was almost midnight when we arrived in Rome, so we went to have dinner at an Italian restaurant called Miss Grilled. I had Alfredo and the house white wine and spoke to the owner, who has run the restaurant for 40 years.

The following days consisted of visiting the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum – we didn’t want to waste time.

The Trevi fountain is beautiful. The water is a vivid blue and flows from an incredible white stone building with huge columns and statues of angels. The seven of us got together and threw coins to make our wishes come true. Equally impressive was the Pantheon due to its lifespan and preservation. It has been there for thousands of years and it still looks almost exactly as it was when it was first erected. Witnessing such an architectural feat puts into perspective the notion of time and how much the world has evolved.

The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica were my favorite sites in Rome. The ceilings of the Sistine Chapel are breathtaking, covered in intricate paintings and sculptures – each room contains something different. There is a hallway with hundreds of old Roman statues, a room with tapestries of old country maps, original paintings by Van Gogh and much more. And at the Sistine Chapel, after seeing so many photos of Michelangelo’s famous ceiling painting, I felt like I was part of a distinguished club after seeing it in person.

One thing that surprised me was how popular the popular painting of God and Adam touching the fingers, “The Creation of Adam”, is. I imagined it covering the entire ceiling based on images I had seen. Instead, there were tons of other little paintings on the ceiling as well. They are all portraits of different people in stylish clothes. I could have stood there staring at the ceiling for hours to figure it all out.

Our last site was the Colosseum. We had coffee and ice cream at Cafe Roma and had an amazing view of the Colosseum right in front of us. Being near the Colosseum felt like being immersed in Roman culture, surrounded by live music, families running and people passing by on scooters.

The nightlife in Rome is great. After forming a quick friendship with the bartender at the hostel, he drove us and took us to different bars around town. It was also helpful to have an Italian friend to translate things and help us.

I will never forget the food in Rome. I’m pretty sure I’ve had a margherita pizza three of the four days we were there, and I don’t regret it at all. I also ate a lot of pasta and drank a lot of white wine.

Even though it was sad to leave Rome after meeting fun people and seeing amazing things, we were overjoyed to see Santorini.

It’s greek to me

The weather was beautiful and it was warm enough to go to the beach every day we were there. We went to two black sand beaches and also had even more delicious pasta. Santorini was our time to rest and relax between Rome and Athens, and we really absorbed it all.

Nothing compares to the sights in Santorini. The contrast between the white buildings, blue skies and black sand beaches was breathtaking – the photos do not do this beautiful island justice.

Now we are in Athens, our last stop before heading back to London. So far we have planned to see the Acropolis and the Parthenon and do a lot of souvenir shopping.

The first impressions of the city were good, but it is completely different from Santorini. I know they are islands, but they don’t even appear to be part of the same country.

To be honest, traveling with a group of six other girls made me nervous. I thought drama would be inevitable, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. However, this trip brought us all so close and truly bonded us. It’s also strange that in September we were all complete strangers, and now we are traveling Europe together.

We already knew we clicked when we first met, but we all experienced a unique opportunity that brought us incredibly close.

Disclaimer: I was on a semester break from October 14-23.

Contact Avery Goodstine at [email protected] For more content on Avery’s study abroad experience in London, stay tuned to the ‘London Eye’ column every Friday and follow the culture bureau on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.

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About John McTaggart

John McTaggart

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