Gelukkig nieuwjaar!! (Happy New Year)

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice”

T.S. Elliot

Is it possible to feel like you’ve lived a year’s worth of time in a few short weeks? It may be atypical but this is exactly how the holiday season has seemed to me. It would be best described through a story of pictures and that’s exactly what I’m going to give you. Each photo shares a memory that I will never forget, with people who I love. And then followed by some surprising news.

First week of December -Daytrip to Düsseldorf, Germany setup by the International Student Network.

My first time to Germany and I got to spend it by eating special treats at their infamous Christmas Markets. My favorite was the potato pancakes with Apple Sauce. Also on the menu was Bratwurst and mustard, fried camembert and cranberries, and christmas bread mmmm (don't judge!). Much of the city was destroyed by bombs in WWII, so it was pretty modern compared to other European cities.

December 13th-15th: One of my childhood friends from Florida, Marilyn, came to Amsterdam to visit me. We took a 9 hour bus ride to Paris and spent two nights there. My feet felt like they were about to fall off after all that walking!

The Eiffel Tower. The top had some amazing views but the bone freezing wind only alloted us so much time to explore. The Metro shut down early that night near the Champs-Elysees, so I had to maneuver my way (in French) back to Montmartre where we were staying.

The Catacombs of Paris hold the remains of about six million people right under the city center. This was the highlight of Paris for me. Yes i know that sounds morbid but after walking through over a mile of tunnels lined with skulls, the images never really leave you.

If you ever travel please stay in a hostel. Almost everyone you meet there shares a passion for travel and is very friendly. We met some really nice fellow American travelers, Aaron and Michael, who joined us in the catacombs, gardens, Louvre, Notre Dame, Centre Pompidou, and Sacré-Cœur.

December 15th-17th: Flew to Madrid, Spain.

The Royal Palace of Madrid. We took a free walking tour hosted by our hostel, Las Musas Residence. Our guide, Harriet, showed us the old city and gave us some really interesting history. They work off of tips and she deserved a huge one.

A chef came into our hostel and showed us how to make tapas. This hostel provided everything we could ask for, including many more friends and a great night out on the town.

Tapas in the Mercado Plazo San Miquel. Anthony Bourdain featured this place on his show No Reservations. I ate cheese with fresh anchovies and bread with salmon. Marilyn stuck to plain sushi (in Spain!?).

We flew back to Amsterdam, and this time I got to play tour guide for Marilyn. I had just turned 21, which isn’t a huge deal in Europe but it was still nice to have a friend here for it. She flew out on Christmas Eve. For Christmas, I got to join my boyfriend’s family to celebrate in a small Dutch town about two hours south near the Belgian border. It seems like I talk about food way too much, but the Surinamese dishes they prepared were amazing. It’s exotic, flavorful, and with a hint of Indonesian definitely little tropical. Add some spice to the mix and boom! you have food from Suriname which is a former Dutch colony, in North Eastern South America. All in all a wonderful Christmas Eve at a home away from home.

December 27th-January 1st 2012: Nick and I flew to what would become my favorite city in the world, Barcelona. I already know I want to live there someday. An ocean side city, surrounded by mountains with its own unique culture and language, Catalan, in one word: magical. One week was not enough.

La Sagrada Familia was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi. He left his mark all over Barcelona with his work. He was a figurehead in the Modernism movement, using organic style inspired by nature. This church is planned to be finished in 30 years! It was truly one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.

Panorama of Monjuic, a hill in Barcelona. We later in the week rented a go-cart and got to drive up here.

Casa Mila. This is the rooftop of an apartment block designed by Gaudi. Supposedly these statues inspired George Lucas in his design of the storm troopers helmets in Star Wars. Do I feel like a nerd for sharing that fact...why yes I do.

Daytrip to Montserrat: we took a train up to a monastery on the side of some gorgeous cliffs and then hiked for an hour. Should have known better than to wear leather pants. Fashion and nature don't mix very well.

I have never felt more inspired by the art in a city then I did in Barcelona. Gaudi is now added to the list of people whom I admire. We spent the rest of the time walking down Las Ramblas, going to many museums like Joan Miro and Picasso, spending a day in Park Guell (another Gaudi jewel). We finally ended up counting down the New Year outside the Catalan National Art Museum by eating twelve grapes and drinking cava (its Spanish tradition). As for new years resolutions: my main goals for the new year are to create an art portfolio and become a master at photoshop and graphic design. On a side note for those of you who don’t know Nick, he is also a Bellarmine graduate and former tennis player. We both feel so lucky to be connected to a school that has given us so many chances to travel.

January 2nd-9th: My mom, Cathy, came to visit me in Amsterdam! You may recognize her, she’s a personal trainer and yoga instructor, who also works part time at Bellarmine’s SURF.

Made her stand on my canal for a picture. This jacket is a reoccurring theme in all my travels.

Brussels, Belgium Took a two-day trip to see the city. Lots of rain added to my disappointment of this city but they had good shopping and a pretty botanical garden.

Saying goodbye to my Mom was hard, but not that bad. Maybe because I’m more mature, or have become more independant….or maybe it’s because I’M COMING HOME ON JANUARY 18TH! My parents surprised me with the offer of coming home for two weeks because classes don’t start until next month. So Bellarmine, for now my European adventures are being put on hold while I return back to good ole’ Kentucky. I hope to see all of you on campus!

xxx (three dutch kisses) – Tatiana