Well it’s official. I have graduated from IE and in case you were wondering, yes, “Master Perrucci” is the correct way to address me.
Not only am I happy to have completed another level of higher education, but I am so grateful that I was able call Spain home for a year.
I am thankful to have a supportive family (even if they didn’t exactly love my decision (Hi, Grandma and Aunt Amy)), friends both in Spain and in the US who kept me sane and focused on enjoying each day, and last but not least a loving boyfriend who was willing to put up with a seven-hour time difference.
The tension that has made a home in my shoulders for the past 10 months has finally disappeared and I am now free to enjoy these next three weeks before the real world I have been hiding from appears again.
Momma and Papi Perrucci arrived in Madrid on July 19th – a day before my graduation. Their time in Europe started with Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning in Madrid, followed by a six-day trip to the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and then ended with Thursday night, Friday and Saturday morning in Madrid.
The heat, although dry as Dad repeatedly raved over, was quite unbearable in the middle of the day with temperatures reaching over 90 degrees and made exploring the city during the day a little more exhausting. By the way, this summer heat was the main reason the famous Spanish “siestas” were created. No air conditioning (back then) and a wickedly hot sun made the middle of the day impossible for productivity. Many companies and businesses do still take two hour lunches every day, which was quite frustrating when it comes to store hours and even going to the gym from about 1:30 – 3:00 PM.
Anyways, Mom, Dad, Derek and I did the usual tour around Madrid over the course of the 4/5 days they were here. We also spent a decent amount of time packing up Derek and my clothes for our “Sherpas”, as Dad referred to himself and Mom, to take home with them. It only ended up being two big suitcases and a guitar case (in addition to their one big suitcase and two carry-ons), so I consider that a success on our end.
Moving onto the best part of the trip, the Amalfi Coast. We left Saturday, July 21st, for Naples, after landing we had about an hour and a half drive (thanks to traffic) to Sorrento, where we stayed for the following five nights. Our six days looked a little something like this:
Saturday: Landed in Naples around 7 PM followed by an hour and a half drive to Sorrento. Enjoyed a late dinner and our quaint, porcelain cat-filled yellow hotel room located in the heart of Sorrento, Piazza della Vittoria.
Sunday: Our plan was to do one or two hikes nearby Sorrento, but after discovering the buses don’t run on Sundays and a taxi was going to cost 60€ each way, we changed our plan and took the city’s train to the funicular (cable car) that climbed up Mount Faito. Because of our delays with the buses, taxis and then waiting an hour for the city train, which by the way lacks air conditioning and goes uncomfortably fast, we arrived at the funicular in the middle of the day and to a long line. Americans are very used to air-conditioning and it can take a while to get used to the lack of AC in Europe, especially when you spend over an hour in line under the hot sun to then be crammed into a cable car with lovely-smelling people and few windows for a ten-minute ride up a mountain. We just barely survived the way up the mountain, but the view was worth it even if we went the long way at first and then afterwards figured out the second path we were taking was to the same exact spot just about half the distance as the first path.
Monday: Monday was probably Derek’s favorite day. We went on a lemon, cheese, pizza tour. What does that mean? We visited a local lemon farm where we enjoyed fresh limoncello and olive oil, as well as met the owners who are in their late seventies and continue to hand pick over 60,000 to 70,000 pounds of lemons a year – by themselves. After we walked through the lemon farm, we were brought to the “Cheeseman”, who made fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese in front of us. We were fed the freshest, yummiest cheese we have ever had in our lives and Derek is still upset he’ll never have it again. We also toured the farm where the cows are housed and the mozzarella is made. After the farm, we were brought to one of the probably two restaurants in the town to make our own pizza. Monday was delicious.
Tuesday: This was probably my favorite day because I love boat trips on vacation. We took a 45-minute boat to the island of Capri and then spent around four hours on the island exploring both Capri and Anacapri, the two towns on the island. Once again, we found ourselves in the hot sun waiting for the bus to take us to Anacapri, and yet again the views were worth the travel. Although, I may have developed claustrophobia thanks to every vehicle (cable car, bus, etc.) being crammed to the max. We then spent a few hours exploring different grottos and swimming. The way back was a little rocky and Mom and I both almost went overboard at least once. Bonine was our dearest friend throughout the whole trip.
Wednesday: Our last day we hired a private driver to take us to other cities on the Amalfi Coast: Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. Just a tip for future Amalfi Coast travelers, unless you are JLo and have a yacht, don’t go to the Amalfi Coast during July and August. Because of the huge number of tourists, each city was packed and every road was crowded. The other tourists did not hamper our experience nor did they affect the gorgeous view of the steep cliffs and blue skies, but if you have the choice – steer clear from July and August. It was quite amazing to see all the buildings that had been built into the cliffs hundreds of years ago and are somehow still standing to this day.
Thursday: We left for Naples early in the morning to avoid traffic and returned back to Madrid for the remaining two days.
The Amalfi Coast was my parents’ first trip to Italy and I know won’t be the last. It was one of the most beautiful places I have been to and I have never eaten so much in my life. I am so glad I got to experience Italy with my American Italian parents. I say American Italian because after living in Spain for a year and becoming friends with “real” Italians, it has become clear to me to emphasize my American nationality before mentioning my Italian heritage, which is unlike in America, where I would say I am Italian, before saying I am American. 95% of the people who heard my last name here in Europe assumed I am a true Italian, including many of my Italian professors, but unfortunately no parlo italiano and I have now learned to put American before Italian.
To close this final Madrid blog post, I will once again say thank you to my parents for being here for the end of our time in Madrid and taking Derek and I on a lovely vacation to Italy. Olivia, we missed you.
“Arriving in Madrid finding two of my children fully immersed in the culture and all the nuances of the city was gratifying. Oh how quickly they grow … I enjoyed the time spent walking in the beautiful city of Madrid, visiting the Royal Palace and sitting down for dinner at 9PM (not). I am amazed at how clean the city is including the Metro which NYC should try to emulate.
Our brief trip to Italy was nice. The coast line, people, food and Mediterranean Sea are all fabulous. The traffic and insane driving of the inhabitants was mind boggling and scary at the same time. The cities built into the side of the mountains are something everyone should see.
I really enjoyed our time together in both countries; however, it was not the same without Olivia … Next time … Congratulations to Amanda on her graduation from grad. school and to Derek on his promotion in Spanish Language class. In closing, I highly recommend Madrid to anyone who wants to visit. The weather was fantastic (hot but zero humidity, delightfully cool and pleasant in the shade).”
What better way to celebrate the end of my master’s program and my time in Madrid than a trip to the last region of Spain I haven’t explored – the North. Our six-day trip included the cities of Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Santander and San Sebastián.
Now I cannot say I’ve thoroughly explored each region of Spain, but I have visited the North (Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Santander and San Sebastián), the South (Sevilla, Granada, Malaga and Marbella), the East (Barcelona and Valencia), the West (I’ll consider Madrid for this list’s purposes) and even a couple of the Spanish islands (Tenerife and Mallorca). I consider myself very lucky to have been able to see so much of Spain already in my short 24 years of life.
I went on this six-day trip with my good friends Eleonora and Nicole. We started our journey at 5:50 AM the morning after our last day of our master’s program. Our trip started in Santiago de Compostela, the city known for the Camino de Santiago. It is a quaint, old city with plenty of beautiful buildings to admire. Lucky for us, our Airbnb was in the heart of the city. Everything was within a 10-minute walk. Unlucky for us, our Airbnb was in the heart of the city. The noise at night in combination with the heat was definitely not something advertised on Airbnb. We spent about two days exploring the city and then moved on for a quick 24 hours in A Coruña.
A Coruña is a seaside town that is much bigger than Santiago with far less tourists. We enjoyed a lovely night walking around during which we found Reese’s sticks. Naturally, I bought a pack so Ele and Nicole could experience the heavenly deliciousness that is Reese’s sticks. Spoiler alert: they loved it. The next morning, we visited Torre de Hercules, a lighthouse on the sea with remarkable views and a charming beach next to it.
After a four-hour bus ride, our third city was Santander. In order to help you visualize Santander a bit, imagine the hills of San Francisco (or Porto, Portugal), but steeper. Our Airbnb happened to be on the top of the steepest, longest hill I have yet to climb in my life, which was ironically named “Calle Viste Alegre” (which can be translated as happy sight). Luckily there are moving sidewalks. Yup, moving sidewalks up the hill. See picture below.
After our hike up the hill and a much-needed shower, we had dinner at the first restaurant that was more than just tapas and to say we needed it was an understatement. Luckily, our food experience only went up once we arrived in Santander and the rest of the trip we did not have to survive off of tapas. We spent the next day lounging on a long stretch of beach and then later that afternoon made our way to our last destination, San Sebastián.
We definitely saved the best for last with San Sebastián. There are beaches, good food, lots of shopping and yummy ice cream, what’s not to love? We had two nights and two days here and we lucked out with one full day on the beach. The second day it rained so we found a lovely café for a late breakfast, early lunch and then did some shopping before our train back to Madrid.
Santiago De Compostela
I had so much fun with these girls and am so grateful to have made such great friends at IE. And now the trip from Nicole and Ele's perspective:
Everyone was surprised when we decided to travel through the North of Spain, questions such as why not the sunny, party-friendly and beloved by young people South were quite common. But we wanted to see something new a part of Spain none of us three women have been to, we wanted to share a new travel experience together, create new memories that will always be tied to our travels to the North of Spain. And it worked, the North was beautiful and will always remind me of memories of our trip and friendship.
We drove our car in the mountains we saw clouds so close to us it seemed like we were driving through the sky while listening to throwback music playlist and singing to songs which despite our different nationalities we knew the words to. We sat on the sand and sunny beaches, green grass and ancient grounds while always reminding ourselves of the beauty, which was so cinematic it seemed unreal.
There are too many things I could write about which have made the trip amazing, actually, there has not been a single part of the trip which I will look at with regret. The North of Spain was beautiful, but I am sure it would not be the same without my two friends Amanda and Ele.
Thank you, girls, for being my travel buddies and most of all such great friends.
Another team, this time smaller. Another project, this time much funnier. However, not easy: 4 cities in not even 6 days! But this trip definitely got its Honors. :-) After 10 intense months spent together, traveling through the North of Spain was the best choice to have more and different memories. It has been short, but we did so many things that we lost control of time and “what day is today?” was a question as common as tough to answer. :-) But how to forget the cheerful people ending their Camino in Santiago de Compostela, right in front of the beautiful Cathedral? Or the deep blue of the ocean that was surrounding us once we were on the top of the Tower of Hercules, an ancient Roman lighthouse in A Coruña, or the first day at the beach in a pretty Santander and the waves of San Sebastián?
But besides that, I will always bring with me the flavor of my first Reese’s bar that Amanda shared with us. The happiness that me and Nicole felt while we were eating the best peaches in the world bought in a little fruit shop in San Sebastian. The infinite number of stairs we walked together, laughing more than complaining. And all the amazing pictures we took not because we are so good in that, but just because the app HUJI is our new best friend - Amanda can confirm, just ask her.
So, thank you my friends. I don’t know where the next one will happen but it definitely will! See you soon, in some part of the world, wherever we’ll be.
Four cities in six days is no easy feat and I was exhausted the day after. Now we have the few final days before Mom and Dad come for my graduation and our trip to the Amalfi Coast. Once Mom and Dad leave, Derek and I will have only a couple days before we leave for our August travels.
The cities we will be traveling to include:
Various cities in Sicily, Italy
If these six days of travel were exhausting, I expect a week-long coma when I get back home.