Spring Break in Sicily!

Back in January, we knew we needed a place to go for spring break. We were considering Greece, Tunisia, Sardinia, and Sicily. So we shopped around online looking for apartments to rent for a week in any of these places. We found a nice one in Cefalu, Sicily, where I had studied two summers before, and quickly got in contact with the landlord. There were two adjacent apartments available with four beds each, so we committed and booked them. For the next month and a half we didn’t really think about it much. We had places to go and things to do.


A Rainy Monday: Bike Meets Car

            We got into Cefalu at about 8:30 in the morning. The day after a night train is always horrible. You’re painfully tired and your eyes ache all day. It’s kind of like jet lag all over again. On top of that, it was drizzling, and Carlo, the landlord gave me a funny-looking phone number that I wasn’t sure would work. Well I called it a few times and finally he picked up and gave me some directions. There’s one street that goes from the train station and continues all the way through the small town until it makes a "T" just before the water. We had to get to that T and that’s where he would be waiting. So the eight of us started our hike in that direction, me with a huge bike box. Of course, Sicilian eyes are expert stare-ers and they were performing just fine that morning. In the early morning, there were already dozens doing their work—staring at the new arrivals in town.

We got there and that’s when we first met Carlo. Carlo was a smiley, short, balding, white-haired man with a small potbelly who liked to talk through his rotten teeth. His breath reeked of something indescribable that morning. That afternoon, I would find out why.

            We followed him down the street to the left and up into our apartment. It was a beautiful place with a view of the water, and plenty of room for eight dudes. After my friends moved in, they all laidy down to take a nap. I was going to do the same, but then the sun came out and I couldn’t wait any longer. I decided to take my bike out of the box, assemble and head out on a ride.

            I took the direction to Palermo and enjoyed the new pavement, which was “partly financed by the EU.” It wasn’t an especially warm day, but my layers were adequate and I felt like I was riding through a cyclist’s paradise. I made it about 20 miles out before the rain clouds came up on me and started dumping. That’s where I turned around and began the second half of my ride.

 On the way back I was heading down the same two-lane highway where I came upon two cars turning left. The first one pulled out a little bit in front of me but wouldn’t have been a problem. But the second misjudged my speed and followed the first. The driver saw me coming and instead of doing anything, failed to make a decision and just stopped, blocking my entire lane. I had already clutched my brakes and was sliding at an angle on course to hit him. Somehow I made a flying leap out of my clipless pedals and managed to stay on my feet while my bike hit the deck hard. I put my street Italian to use and the driver sheepishly climbed out of his car as I looked over my bike. There was no serious damage except for my bent handlebars that I could fix with a multitool. I went through the regular hand gestures while fixing my bike and kept going. I made it back to the apartments and showered off thankful my bike and I were both still in one piece. 


Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame

Happy Backpackers

The most fun, exciting, educational, and craziest weekend I had during my semester abroad. You definitely get the maximum bang for your buck with WSA. WSA provided me with an unbelieveable weekend in Budapest. After hearing from my friends about their amazing experiences on WSA trips, I had to see what all the hype was about. I chose to take part in a WSA weekend in Budapest, and I loved every minute of it. The guide, Bogi, was the best! WSA is the perfect blend of an educational/tourist expereince while also allowing for sites off the beaten path as well as kickass nightlife. You won't regret a trip with WSA.

Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame ~ University of Notre Dame, London, Spring 2015

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