During this program, there are two weekend trips planned out for the first month while the participants are in school. The first weekend was spent in the Pyrenees mountains. It was absolutely incredible, even from inside of the bus while we drove to the top. Looking back on the photos, none of them actually do the beauty of the mountains justice; they also look completely edited. We arrived at our humble abode for the weekend and immediately had a picnic lunch before we left to begin our hike. It was a beautiful day, perfect for the long climb. By the time we reached the top, I had surprisingly only fallen down once. I’m unfortunately clumsy, so this was actually a big deal. It began to rain once we made it to the top, but the water was a perfect way to cool down. We were fortunate enough to get a great view of the tallest waterfall in Europe before we headed back down to the bus. That night we were served a traditional French meal with several courses, one of them obviously being cheese. Afterwards, we watched the Barcelona team at a local bar as they won the Championship game for the UEFA Champions League.
The next day, we left early in the morning so that we could make a stop in the famous city of Lourdes on our way back to Toulouse. It was a beautiful Cathedral, and being able to walk through the Grotto was very humbling. It is one of my favorite places that I’ve visited while being abroad.
The next weekend, we drove all the way to Barcelona. We arrived Friday night just in time for a delicious tapas dinner. Afterwards, the group went out to the nightclubs to experience Barcelona’s famous nightlife. It is nothing like that of the places in France that I’ve been in. The next day, everyone spent time in the sun and the sand, and walked all over the city. We had plenty of gelato and super sore feet by the end of the day. Finally on Sunday, we headed to La Sagrada Familia, walked past the Arc de Triomf, and wandered around the many parks before it was time to head back on the bus.
The third weekend was free, so a small group of us headed to the beach town Arcachon, near Bordeaux, to relax in the sand. We ate more fresh seafood in one weekend than is normal, and probably spent too much money on macaroons; but it was a wonderful mini vacation from school.
Being able to travel all over with everyone on the program was a great way to make long lasting friendships. Nothing can bring you closer to someone than getting lost in foreign cities and navigating your way home together.