Sometimes I feel like I get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity every other week or so living abroad. These last week I think I was bordering in the high twenties. It was a whirlwind of adventure and exhaustion fueled mostly by gelato. Let me tell you how it went. ๐Ÿ™‚

Like I said in my last post…I crawled out of bed with the flu and, loaded up with every medicine under the Scottish grey sky, and onto our first bus. I was feeling better–I hear adrenaline can do that, though. ๐Ÿ™‚ My sweet friend Rosie was kind enough to pack for me last Tuesday night. Her gap year traipsing all over India, South America, and Lord-knows-where-else prepared her well for this. “No, you only get one jacket…pick between those pants, they look the same to me.” Thanks to her, I packed all my stuff for a 12 day trip into a carryon for the first time in my life (Well okay, up until I had to check it to carry on all the stuff that I bought for people. Don’t tell Rosie).

Wednesday night we were in Brussels. I felt so bad for Natalie because I must have been the worst travel companion of all time–In truth, I can’t really remember all that much of Brussels. But I remember the chocolate. And the waffles. I remember getting to use the little French I know for the first time, and I remember the offbeat, Paris-like vibe of the city. I remember not sleeping thanks to the 11 Asian tourists who shared our room and set their alarm to go off at fifteen minute intervals from 4:30 to 5:30am. I remember how incredibly beautiful Grand Place was.

And before I knew it, we were in Paris. We were incredibly excited for Paris because it meant getting to see our friends from school. Grace, Margaret, Amy, Mary Raine, and Christie were all on the backend of their own school’s reading week, and we were thrilled to be reunited. I was especially excited to see Christie, who I met the first day of school freshman year and who’s been an incredible friend every single day since. Grace’s family has flat in Paris (you can watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle from her front door, if you can imagine!) and she was sweet enough to share some of the city’s best parts with us. We had a beautiful dinner to catch up, and then spent about an hour trying to capture the perfect picture touching the top of the Eiffel Tower. The next morning we went to L’Orangerie and were going to the Louvre’s metro stop when, well…I nearly passed out at the Louvre. Note: friends that go find you orange juice and walk you back to your hostel to sleep when they could go right on exploring Paris instead? Those are the kind you call “keepers”.

I was sleep-deprived, coughing, couldn’t breathe…miserable–and I couldn’t stand the fact that I missing Paris with my friends. The next morning we flew out to Barcelona and (I’m sorry this isn’t the wonderful travel story you were hoping for when you opened this. I feel bad writing it. And I definitely felt bad living it!) the airport outside of Paris was possibly a low point. Or Definitely. I’m just going to breeze over the terrible bus ride that made me get sick at the airport, my doubt about making it out of that country, and the map I handed to Natalie that said, “If I pass out on this plane, please call my mom at this number…please call Tara if I go to the hospital in Barcelona because ย she speaks Spanish and I know she won’t let me die in Spain…”

Poor Natalie.

Let’s just cut to the Barcelona hotel room where I laid for two days. Thank goodness our friend Andrew met us in Barca and did all kind of wonderful things like spend the day exploring with Nat and go with us to the doctor (an American angel who gave me seven prescriptions, a bronchitis/sinusitis/rhinositis diagnosis, and a recommendation that I go get a chest x-ray for pneumonia). I made it a total of two places there: the fruit market (which was incredible!) and to dinner with my friend Tara (who is also incredible).

But then, things started looking up. It was a bit of a new chapter thanks to my antibiotics–so much, in fact, that I think it deserves a new post. Let’s end this one here.

Love,

Rachel

P.S. Sorry about the pictures–I was too tired to carry my giant-but-incredible camera through Paris and Barca, so I have to learn to upload the pictures from my small one!

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