The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Across the Pond

Missed flights and nauseating bus rides build character
Photo by Maggie O’Brien
Across the Pond visual made by Maggie O’Brien.

It’s been over a month since I last checked in. It’s spring break at the University of Winchester, which means a full three weeks of nothing but adventures.

This article is coming to you from a FlixBus on its way to Venice, Italy, and is being typed on my poor iPhone with a completely fried battery.

But enough about my current makeshift office. Let’s backtrack a little.

On April 5, I flew to Greece.

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Fifteen minutes into our train ride to London Heathrow Airport, the flight my five friends and I were supposed to take to Athens was canceled. We hopped off the train at the next stop and sat in a coffee shop for an hour to reevaluate.

Three girls got on a flight at 9 p.m. that same day, but the other three of us ended up scheduled for a 6 a.m. flight the next morning.

We said goodbye to the lucky(ish) three and booked a hotel room.

We dragged our luggage along the side of the highway for half an hour until we ran out of sidewalk, then cut across the road, walked through a sketchy parking lot and finally pushed open a rusty gate leading to the back of the hotel.

The hotel would have made the ideal set for a low-budget, low-effort indie film.

One girl actually caught a few hours of sleep while the other girl and I walked the perimeter of the hotel until 3:15 a.m.

We took a pod to the airport at 4 a.m. Partially due to our state of stress and sleep deprivation, and partially because of its similarity to transportation in the “Hunger Games” movies, we were super excited about this.

After a few broken hours of shut eye due to the painful lack of legroom and multiple screaming babies, we touched down in Athens.

Instead of leaving the plane on a ramp, we walked down the stairs and got onto a trolley that was basically all windows and looked out in awe at the surrounding mountains.

Finally making it to the AirBnB felt like a genuine miracle. We spent the rest of that day napping on the beach, then made our way to Athens the next day.

I lived out my “Mamma Mia!” dreams on the beach in Artemi, Greece. (Photo by Kyra Price)

Many gyros were eaten, many historic rocks were visited, many cats were pet and only one bite occurred. According to my mother’s Google search, rabies is basically eradicated in Greece, and I have yet to exhibit any symptoms of hysteria.

My favorite — and probably my friends’ least favorite — part of Greece was stopping to pet every cat I saw.

April 9, our group took a much less complicated flight to Rome.

In retrospect, we didn’t do nearly as much planning as we should have. Our AirBnB ended up being a 30-minute bus ride from the main attractions, and we had no idea how to get tickets for anything important.

Thankfully, we decided to brave the wait for St. Peter’s Basilica. I walked around in awe for an hour. I’ve seen many cathedrals, but this was incomparable.

St. Peter’s Basilica was more than worth the half hour wait in the sun. (Photo by Kyra Price)

After a few days of exploring, we made our way to Florence on April 12.

This is the city I was really excited for. I went into the trip knowing this is where I’d do most of my shopping.

Florence is known for its leather markets, and my British friends have shown me their cute jewelry emblazoned with “Made in Italy.”

I spent hours perusing the markets and checking people off my souvenir and birthday presents list.

The highlight of the Florence section of our trip was something I never would’ve anticipated. My friend Maddie knew about a pub called The Lion’s Fountain that has a ceiling completely covered in university t-shirts.

Eau Claire was up there and she insisted on making a trip there to sign it. After a few minutes of searching, we located the t-shirt and climbed up on stools to sign it.

We were all starving and decided to grab dinner there as well. Lo and behold, there was ranch on the menu.

Ranch simply does not exist in Europe. The biggest culture shock for me has come from the little, unexpected things. Finding out I wouldn’t be able to dip my chicken nuggets in ranch was enough to warrant a frantic phone call to my mother.

Fries drowned in ranch and honey barbeque wings with a big cup of ranch on the side were enough to bring tears to each of our eyes.

I spent the last day exploring the markets with an Italian friend. There was an endless line of copy and pasted booths of leather purses throughout the market, but he brought me to a little store on a side street.

Here, the owner explained the differences between real and synthetic leather and answered every question I had. I came away with a couple of gifts for family members and a significantly higher credit card bill.

When I got back to the villa (located in an actual castle), I went for a freezing cold night swim then hit the hay at a completely reasonable 4 a.m.

My favorite part of living in a villa for a few days was watching the setting sun over the rolling hills. (Photo by Kyra Price)

This brings me to now. 

I’m ecstatically awaiting my arrival to Venice and my exit from this godforsaken bus. I can’t wait to fill you in on the logistics of the (at least) three more trips out of England I’ll be taking in my last month of study abroad. 

Price can be reached at [email protected].

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