Spring Break: London, Amsterdam and Barcelona

Submitted by Troy Flagler on the 2016 spring semester program in Tuscany, Italy…

Today, we returned from our ten day excursion for spring break. The week was jam-packed. We truly traveled far and wide. It began with a trip to London where we sought out fish and chips (of course) and some other foods that aren’t easy to come by in Italy. Then we traveled to Amsterdam, where we spent a full day traveling to the little Dutch villages outside of the city center. These villages were erupting with traditional Dutch culture. We saw wooden clogs in all corners of the villages, tasted cheeses and chocolates, and wandered through the small streets taking in the tiny houses.

Afterwards, we traveled to Spain where we spent the rest of our time. Spain was very different from Italy. Ironically, it was more similar to America in some ways, but the biggest difference I recognized is the pace of life. In Spain, afternoon siestas are common. During this time, many shops and restaurants are closed. However, the “tapas” joints are a great place to sit and relax while munching on some traditional Spanish cuisine. The first day in Spain, Sam and I explored Las Ramblas and found a tapas café. I ordered a plate of olives, peppers and cheeses as well as a bowl of spicy sausages. The food was absolutely delicious. I enjoy the idea of tapas in the afternoon as a snack. Commonly in Italy, there’s a seven hour stretch of time between lunch and dinner in which we really don’t eat anything. And if you miss a meal for whatever reason, then you’re faced with a struggle to find food or else go hungry until the following meal. In Spain, lunch is the largest meal of the day. I find this unique, but also pleasing. A large lunch means that you’ll have plenty of fuel for the remaining part of the day and can get away with a smaller dinner so you’re not eating a large meal and going directly to bed. Many Spaniards are very fit and enjoy working out. I noticed the beach in Barcelona has large “jungle-gym” looking structures where people gather en masse to work out together. I quickly came to appreciate the Spanish lifestyle that’s very distinct to that region of Europe.

Students in Netherlands Troy Flagler 16S Tuscany, Italy small