Monday, July 25, 2011


Croatia was definitely my favorite port to date. By no means was it more fun, beautiful or interesting than the other two ports we have been to, but there was something just really captivating about it. I was told by a few people that Dubrovnik would amaze me but because it’s not as well-known as the other ports, I was skeptical. By the end of the first day, my sources were proved right.

On the first day, we stepped out into blistering temperatures and made our way through Dubrovnik to the Old Town, inside the walls. It is a really nice, stone-street town with tons of different types of architecture and street performers everywhere. Everyone was really nice, and we took most of the day just walking around, taking in all the views.

Speaking of the views, the ocean and the orange roofs of Dubrovnik were breathtaking from almost every angle. There were great cliff jumping spots and cliff side bars, as well as big sandy beaches where you can kayak, windsurf, wakeboard or anything else. The nightlife was limited, but still fun. There were clubs in the Old Town that were a lot of fun, and even though Semester at Sea pretty much dominated them, it was really cool.

The highlight of the whole trip to Dubrovnik for me was the third day, when a group of us paid for a three-island snorkeling tour on a private boat. We hopped on early in the morning and got to go to a cove with some awesome underwater caves. We spent a couple hours exploring the reef and the caves. Second, we went to an island with a nice beach for a long lunch and just spent some time playing in the water and taking naps on the beach. On the way back, we stopped at one more huge underwater cave and snorkeled there and we also got to do a cool cliff jump. It wasn’t very high, but if you include the treacherous climb up and the distance you had to jump away from the cliff to avoid hitting the rocks, it was pretty sweet!

Overall, Dubrovnik is the one I’m definitely looking forward to revisiting the most (so far). I could see myself spending a significant amount of time there and I think it’s because as opposed to Spain and Italy, there aren’t as many people (locals and tourists alike) and only one big thing to see (the walls). So when you have done that, you get a real relaxing vacation in a legitimate European country. Greece is coming soon, then Bulgaria, Turkey and Morocco! Stay tuned for Athens and Mykonos in a couple days!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Well, my back and legs hurt, I’m dead tired and I can’t eat pasta or pizza anymore…but Italy was the most amazing week of my life! First thing when we ported in Naples, a few friends and I grabbed a taxi and went up to Mt. Vesuvius, the volcano that famously destroyed Pompeii long ago. Our driver, Giuseppe (pronounced, according to him, “Josep”) was the coolest guy ever – he drove us around for eight hours, waiting for us to climb the mountain, explore Pompeii and even eat authentic pizza for the first time. He sang for us, let us stop to take pictures, and everything in between.

We trekked up Mt. Vesuvius and got to look into the crater and all that jazz, but it was a little disappointing until the very top – that’s when the fog miraculously lifted and gave us a 360-degree view of what felt like the entire country of Italy! What a great way to start our trip to Italy. Next, we were whisked away to Pompeii, where we were greeted with a few testers of local alcohol (I believe it’s spelled lemoncello?). I’m not going to lie, most of the testers tasted like crap, but it was still fun. We brought a bottle of wine to Pompeii and sipped it while exploring the awesome ruins.

Later in the day, we saw the coliseum of Pompeii, the only structure that seemed to still be somewhat intact. We also saw some bodies trapped in plaster, an old brothel and the community baths. After running through a closed-off vineyard and hopping a brick wall to meet Giuseppe on time, we headed back to Naples.

Naples itself wasn’t that impressive to me – the garbage workers are on strike right now so there are garbage piles everywhere. But even more than that, it just was a creepy, crowded city; which is unfortunate, because all the surrounding areas (Vesuvio, Capri, etc.) were really cool! But the one thing I can definitely say for Naples is that the pizza is freaking amazing! Best pizza I’ve ever had in my life, hands down. No more Pizza Hut for this guy…

The second day, I went to Capri with a huge group of Semester at Sea kids…we took a 45-minute ferry there and rented a little boat. We grabbed some HUGE, cheap bottles of wine and got an hour and a half long tour of the coastline of Capri. That little town is absolutely gorgeous – unfortunately the world famous Blue Grotto was closed due to high tides, but we still got to get out and swim, see a natural arch and other cool things.

On the third day, I did Mt. Vesuvius again because some of my friends hadn’t done it yet and wanted to…once again, it was awesome! Then, we caught a train to Pisa that night and got in around midnight. It was actually a really cool little town in my opinion, but I could definitely see why you would only go there for the leaning tower. After eating and wandering for a bit, we found a hostel called the Pisa Hostel and got some nice cheap rooms for the night (we only slept for a few hours…). We got up around 6 am to trek over to the leaning tower and got some awesome pictures of it as the sun was rising!

As soon as we could, we got on a train from Pisa to the Cinque Terre. For those of you who don’t know, that is a succession of five little cliff side towns on the west coast of Italy. They are absolutely gorgeous – we took the whole day to hike through them. Some of the most amazing views and pictures were captured here, and I can’t wait until I have a good internet connection so I can show everyone!

After a horrible (to say the least) overnight train ride from Monterosso to Civitavecchia (where we ported for our days in Rome), we finally got to explore the big city itself! Our first day, we explored the Spanish Steps, went down to the Trevi Fountain and the Villa Borghese. All three were pretty incredible sights. The second day in Rome, we hit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Vatican City. I loved all these places, and the Sistine Chapel definitely was worth the visit (yes, I snagged an illegal picture with my camera in there).

On the last day in Rome, we visited the Pantheon, then took the train back to Civitavecchia for one last pizza/gelato meal. Overall, my visit to Italy was an absolute blur, and despite all the sore muscles it was worth every Euro spent! I cannot wait to go back, especially to Rome and the Cinque Terre. Stay tuned for a brief recap after Croatia, where we are porting tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


This has been a long time coming…my FIRST blog on this entire trip! I apologize for taking so long to get everyone updated. It’s 1:30 a.m. right now and I’m lying on my bottom bunk talking to my two roommates – Ryan from Colorado who goes to school at University of San Diego and Robyn from Chicago who goes to Butler University. We are part of the “Caribbean Sea,” which is how they separate the halls and decks into each Living Learning Coordinator’s (LLC) section. Omar is our hilarious LLC, who helped lead us to victory today at the Sea Olympics!

Team Blue, the Caribbean Sea, tied for first with Team Green, the Bering Sea, after a day of grueling events that included a pull-up competition, crab soccer, volleyball, tug of war and synchronized swimming (just to name a few). I participated in crab soccer (yes, you crab walk and play soccer – absolutely ridiculous, I got some nice blisters on my hand…) and volleyball (Winners! Beat the Bering Sea by one point!).

Anyway, like I said, we were tied at the end of the competitions, so at the “closing ceremonies” our two seas had a dance off in front of everyone else. We pulled out the overall victory with the brilliant inclusion of two small children who are traveling on the ship with their parents, who busted moves like the worm, the Bernie and the Dougie! So, you are reading the blog of a newly-crowned 2011 Semester at Sea Summer Voyage Sea Olympic Champion!

Here’s a little bit of info to get you all caught up:

There are 676 students (staff, crew, faculty and lifelong learners included, over 1,000 passengers are on the ship) representing 290 universities here. There are six of us from Washington State University, and the majority of people are from somewhere in California. University of Colorado, University of Virginia and a couple other big schools like Ohio State University and University of Texas are also well-represented.

The Bahamas were incredible…I got in with a bunch of people I met on my flight from SFO to Ft. Lauderdale. We took two flights to get to Nassau, and then a shuttle to the Sheraton, which was situated conveniently right on the beach. I spent most of those two days on the beach or in the pool, just trying to meet new people and take it all in. We all went to Senor Frog’s the first night and tore it up for a little bit, which was especially cool because we could see the ship at the port down the block! My roommates in the Sheraton were Tim and Craig, both from Southern California. They are really cool guys who ended up rooming nearby in my hallway – I hang out with Tim the most out of anyone on the ship, and Craig and I always find some time to catch up too.

As the “Communications Assistant” for my work study position, I got to board the ship a day early. Tim, Craig and I could not believe it when we finally stepped onto the ship for the first time and got such a warm welcome from the staff and crew on board. We took a while to just explore the ship, then kind of settled in and went to work making friends. I can legitimately say that I have made over 100 new friends on this ship, and many more acquaintances.

I spent the second day helping with general boarding, by greeting and directing new students which was the best job possible since I got to meet every single student that came up those stairs for the first time. I’ve since kind of settled in and have a couple nice little groups of close friends that I spend a lot of time with, but I have been trying to continue meeting people every day because I know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to be able to keep in touch and visit all these people some day! My main crew includes Tim, Mary and Cedar from Colorado (students at Colorado St.), Kate and Madison from Northern California (University of San Francisco and Sacramento St., respectively) and a few more kids down the hall from Minnesota! I became good friends with Javier too, who just left our ship yesterday. He was sailing as the inter port student, which means he lives in Barcelona but he tagged along on our voyage to Spain to help answer questions, give lectures, etc.

My work study job is interesting and not as painstakingly difficult as I’d expected. I’ve still been able to send some blogs home to All-Outdoors and help them out, and I have plenty of time to do homework, volunteer in the ship’s writing center and join a few groups around the ship. If you want to see any podcasts, blogs, photo slideshows or videos that I may have helped write, edit or produce, check out the website at

Anyway, we just left Spain last night and it was pretty sad; I want to go back already. We all had a ridiculous time in Barcelona. I got to experience Las Ramblas, the markets, the nightlife, La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, the beaches, the cheap wine, the paella and sangria and even a Flameco show! All in 3 and a half short days. I really did not want to leave (although I’m sure that’s how I will feel about every port). There is so much I could write about and elaborate on, but it just won’t do Barcelona justice.

I think most of these stories will be better told through word-of-mouth stories, or just when I get home because I don’t have the time, energy or internet bandwidth to write out the ten pages it would take to explain how amazing this trip is and how epic Barcelona was and how excited we all are for Italy! I can tell you that the classes are awesome (except the generic, required Global Studies class – super lame), the people are even better, and the ports are the best. I am legitimately thinking about trying to find a way to get a job with this program so I can continue seeing the world through their trip.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE e-mail me! My email here is and it’s completely free for me so just get at it! I check it a few times a day and it’s way easier to communicate with (just ask Mom, Dad, Lexie, Bryan or Jill – they figured that out!). I’d love to hear from anyone and I will gladly tell some stories as a reward! Well, I have to hike Mt. Vesuvius in Naples tomorrow morning, plus go to Pompeii with my English class, PLUS go to L’antica Pizzeria de Michel for dinner with my friends. I have a rough life. So let me sleep. Miss and love you all…Ciao!

P.S. - I heard that the Warriors drafted Klay Thompson....................................................GO COUGS!!!!!!! Season tickets - anyone down???