1. O castle, my castle

    I’m no longer a castle dweller of Spring 2013. Everything feels foreign back here in Boston. There’s so many overwhelming sounds and sights, especially with the chaos of the Boston marathon bombings. But it’s really good to be home. My friends here have changed so much and I’m so happy for all of them. 
    I’ve changed myself. So much in fact, that I sometimes forget who I was before going to the Netherlands. It was such a life-changing experience, to travel the world every weekend and live with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. 
    Over my travels, I saw Gaudi’s magnificent cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, I’ve climbed over 400 steps to the top of the Duomo Bell Tower in Florence, Italy, I’ve taken a wine tour, walked the Roman Colosseum, felt the waters of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, bought a genuine Venetian mask, ate a Belgian waffle in the street….There’s just so many memories to recount, so many experiences to remember. I can’t keep track of them all. 
    If I didn’t attend the castle program, I would not have found myself. So much of my personality came to light throughout these travels, and I never would’ve seen them otherwise. 
    I’ve grown as a person, both intellectually and culturally. 

    And I wouldn’t change any of it.

     
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  3. Hey look, it’s Xandra with her flower crown and Sophie’s guitar.

     
  4. Last Sunday in my castle. 

     

  5. I can’t believe I’m leaving this castle in 3 days. It feels like I’ve been away at summer camp, when in reality I was traveling Europe. 

     
  6. Now this photo may be poor quality, but it’s one of my favorites. April 7th, my second visit to the sea organs. Midnight sky by the ocean, priceless.
    Zadar, Croatia

     
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  9. Preko, Croatia. 

     
  10. The Adriatic Sea was a little cold that day.  
    Preko, Croatia. 

     
  11. Starting off the Sunday right, on our way to Preko, Croatia, just a ferry ride away from Zadar. 

     
  12. Flooded. Plitvice Lakes National Park. 

     

  13. On hiking for 8 hours

    We visited the Plitvice Lakes National Park with the intent of making the most of it. Which in turn meant getting up at 6 a.m. to get there at 8 a.m. when they opened. 
    For some reason, the thought did not occur to any of us that the temperature in the mountains would be drastically different than the temperature in Zadar. So two showed up in shorts, and the rest of us were just plain cold. Who knew there was snow in the mountains? 
    I’m going to guess we hiked close to 8-10 miles that entire day. But it was worth every kink or knee pain or soggy backpack. At every sightseeing point, we took dozens of photos. Primarily, Brandon and I brought up the rear of the group because we took too long to take our waterfall and landscape photos. 

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    But that never stopped me from exploring. Sometimes the group would split, leaving Ady, Jenny, Xandra and I to roam abandoned buildings or hiking down forbidden stone stairs. 

    Abandoned building you say? 

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    The foundations were still intact, and so was the rear staircase leading to what we assumed to be the 2nd floor back porch. From that vantage point, you could see a still-moldy bathtub and some broken tiles. 

    Behind the orange caution tape, the four us ventured down a zigzagging decaying staircase. At the bottom was the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen up close. 

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    It was a steep climb down, and the spray was wetting my camera lens, so we didn’t stay for long. But I did climb (sort of, with a busted knee) to the tip of a small rock. 

    An even cooler view was just around the corner. Keep in mind, this was still kind of a forbidden area and you’ll see why. 

    Maybe a little flooded. That didn’t stop us either. We jumped the couple steps completely submerged and it was a beautiful view down the side of the cliff you see above. Eh, a little dangerous but who’s keeping track? 

     
  14. Plitivice Lakes National Park, Croatia.