Time now to share the last post recapping my study abroad trip from June/July of this summer to France! This post is the one that I have been most excited to write, so I decided to save it for the very end.
After I switched language schools while abroad (from Central France to the South of France), I was excited to see that my new school had a lot more options for day trips and excursions! One trip that was being offered that caught my eye almost immediately was spending an afternoon hiking to see a waterfall in the mountains in Northern Italy (only about an hour away from Nice). Although I am absolutely a city girl, I do really enjoy hiking and spending time in nature, especially when that has to do with waterfalls! By this point in my time in France, some of the difficulties that I experienced while studying abroad were really starting to intensify, so I thought that this day trip might be the perfect little getaway from everything that I was experiencing.
The drive from Nice into Italy was absolutely incredible. The European highway which goes along this part of the Mediterranean, the A8, had absolutely the most breathtaking views that I have ever seen on a highway in my life. Mountains, cliffs overlooking the ocean, small Mediterranean villages... absolutely incredible! The drive itself was almost my favorite part of the whole afternoon!
Something else that I found interesting was that when crossing by land, people don't need to bring passports to go into other European countries, thanks to the EU's Open Border system. Driving from France to Italy was about as simple as when I drive to South Carolina for cheaper gas when I'm at school in Charlotte! This whole system was especially strange to me because I have visited Canada several times by car (being from Maine), and doing land-border crossings from the US to Canada are a very different situation. It's never happened to my family, but it's not unusual for border crossing patrol to stop and do full inspections on vehicles!
I sadly cannot remember the name of the waterfall that I visited! It was a little bit past the small village of Dolceaqua, Italy, which is fairly close to the French/Italian border. You have to drive down some small-ish roads a little bit past the center of the village to a big parking lot, and then you do a short hike through a trail in the woods before hitting the waterfall. The area seemed very popular with locals as well as tourists!
I had already started feeling sick by the date of this excursion, but I'm still so glad that I followed through and went on it. This day trip was absolutely my favorite thing that I did during the whole time that I was in France (although ironically this was in Italy ;-) ).
After visiting the waterfall, the tour guide took us to visit the small village of Dolceaqua, Italy. We only got to explore and walk around for maybe 20 minutes or so before having to head back to France, but I'm still so happy that we stopped! Even though this part of Italy was only about an hour away from Nice, to me it really did feel like a completely different country.
I only got to spend one afternoon in Italy, but I certainly wish I could have been there longer! Definitely a country that I hope to return to and see more of someday.
Thank-you to all of you who followed along with reading about my study abroad adventures both during and after my travels this summer! It definitely was an experience. If you will be studying abroad or traveling in France/Monaco/Northern Italy anytime soon and want to ask me more about my trip in detail, you can always e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
In other news, today is a big day for me! It's my last day ever of working at my summer job. I've worked at the same little store here in Maine for the past three summers! I will probably not be returning to live at home next summer, so it's a little bittersweet to be leaving my job. But the good news is that I'll be back in Charlotte in less than a week now- SO EXCITED!
xoxo Miss ALK