Written by Kelsey V. February 18, 2015

My favorite building in the Gothic Quarters!

The beautiful walls of Park Guell!

Group picture at Park Guell!

Tapas for lunch!



With our amazing toug guide - thanks Hellen!

Madrid was truly beautiful!

View from the water taxi

Elaborate costumes of Carnevale

Got to purchase my own mask!

This past weekend was our first “travel weekend”, meaning CIMBA gave us Monday and Tuesday off from school to have an extended weekend to travel.

We left campus Friday around 5 p.m. and went to the Venice airport. We flew to Barcelona. Our plane was slightly delayed  so we arrived in Barcelona late that night. The hostel we stayed in was VERY fun! They had lots of events enabling the young travelers to get to know each other.

We spent the entire next day, Saturday, exploring Barcelona. I had a delicious Eggs Benedict for breakfast! We took a walking tour of the “gothic quarters”, which included beautiful architecture and very dark, historical stories. It was actually really fascinating to learn about.

After lunch, we broke away from the group to do some exploring on our own. We went to Park Guell, which was what I was most excited to see in Barcelona! This is one of the major Gaudi works in Barcelona. There we saw the famous, beautiful mosaic wall.

We explored (and shopped) the rest of the day and called it an early night since we had a long day ahead of us. Early the next morning, we took a train to Madrid. We were lucky enough to have our own personal tour guide for the day! One of my friends, Stephanie, has a family friend who lives in Madrid. We spent the day with her and it was amazing! She showed us all the great parts of Madrid- historic parts, parks, shopping. It was truly a perfect day. For lunch, she took us to one of her favorite places. We had our first tapas experience! Tapas are like smaller appetizers that are easy to share. We ordered quite a few tapas and shared them all- it was a true Spanish experience!

We spent Monday exploring more and shopping (of course)! The shopping in Madrid is insane. My new favorite store, Zara, is based out of Spain so there seemed to be one on every corner! Madrid is by far my favorite city I have visited thus far- I loved it. Monday night, we went to a salsa club. Yes, I danced! We took a salsa lesson and it was incredibly fun! I think I owe my partner an apology letter though.

Tuesday morning we flew back to Venice, but of course we couldn’t call it a weekend just yet! It was Fat Tuesday, meaning it was the last day of Carnival in Venice. Carnival is an annual festival held in Venice famous for its masks and costumes. We spent the afternoon exploring Venice and enjoying the elaborate costumes and culture. This was exciting for me as I had not spent any time in Venice yet. Pretty ironic for my campus only being an hour away! We took a water bus and got the full experience. Venice does not have any cars, so often the easiest way to get around is via water.

All in all, the first extended weekend was a HUGE success. It really is a huge benefit that CIMBA gives us these extended travel weekends. This gives you more time to explore places that are a little farther away and not feel as rushed! I felt like I really had enough time to soak in these beautiful cities this past weekend.

You learn a lot about yourself and working with others when traveling in a group. When you think about it, traveling as a group is really similar to a group project. You have to decide when you step in or when to take a step back. Traveling as a group has probably stimulated the most personal development/awareness for me thus far. I’m learning to “go with the flow” and trust the decisions of others. I can’t wait to continue my experiences this weekend in Rome!