California native and Oregon student studying abroad in London.
These are her stories.
(Get it? Like Law & Order?)
~ 13 May
Monday was our full day in Florence. Other than seeing David, we didn’t have too many things on our list to accomplish, so it was mostly a wander-around type of day. We meandered towards the Duomo and admired it from the outside, and then just kept walking until we found the river. We walked along it for a bit and followed the signs for Piazzale Michelangelo, which is a piazza at the top of a hill with amazing views of the city. One of the girls staying in our room told us about it, and I’m so glad she did because even though it was hot out and there were plenty of steps, the view was completely worth it. I thought the view from the terrace of our hostel was awesome, but the view from the top of the hill was absolutely breathtaking. After making our way back down the hill and back along the river, we got some gelato and decided to see if we could go to the gallery where The Birth of Venus is, but it was closed.. We then popped into a 99 cent store and grabbed some snacks and ate in the piazza near our hostel. It was a really low-stress day and I loved it. Although we didn’t see too many tourist-y things, I think we got a really good feel for the city by how much we walked around and whatnot.
~ 14 May
Tuesday morning we woke up early for our train that would take us to Venice! Once we finally got to our hostel (the shuttle that was supposed to pick is up never appeared), we figured that we deserved a nice relaxing afternoon by the pool. Until then, all of our travelling felt like something our school had organised, or something that we just had to do, but laying by the pool made me realise that this trip is also a vacation. How silly is that? It was so so sooo nice. Sarah had lent me a book of hers that I immediately got caught up in, and there is nothing better than laying by the pool with a good book. Mom, you’ve taught me well.
~ 15 may
The next day we slept in just a bit, and then made our way to the main bit of Venice. Our hostel was another one of the camping ones, so we had to take a shuttle to an island, and then a monorail-type thing from the island to the Venice that people recognise as Venice. But it wasn’t that bad, and it didn’t take that long. Basically all we did on Wednesday was walk around, but that was all we really needed. I feel like what draws people to Venice is the city itself. It was so pretty! And so relaxed. We found a cute little cafe and had bellinis, and I loved being able to just watch the locals go by. We took a lot of pictures and did a lot of window shopping. I ended up buying a bracelet for myself and a little something that’s a surprise for someone else. Don’t want to spoil it. And as our last stop in Italy, we couldn’t leave without getting gelato. I. Love. Gelato.
After a bit more walking and waiting for our shuttle to pick us up on the island, we bought some crackers and salami and cheese and whatnot for dinner and made our own bellinis. It wasn’t classy - the four of us with crackers on our laps, sitting on our beds - but it was cheap and delicious.
~ 16 May
Thursday morning was the start to a long day. After fighting our way through pouring rain and getting to the station, we boarded a train that took us to Milan. Then we had to wait in Milan for a little while, and we finally got on a train for Zurich. Once we got there, we were able to catch a train for Basel. Although the journey lasted around seven hours, it was nice and relaxing and had ridiculously gorgeous views, despite the continuous rain.
When we got to Basel our hostel was thankfully a short walk away, and checking in and everything went smoothly. Our room we booked was like a studio apartment, and it was awesome. Nothing too fancy, but compared to the bungalows and the hostel in Florence, an apartment to ourselves with a clean and fully functional bathroom was a nice change.
~ 17 May
The next morning we got up and had breakfast at our hostel, and then took the tram (we got free public transport with our booking!) to the more downtown area and walked along the Rhine a bit. We decided to check out the Natural History Museum, as it was fairly cheap and sounded fun. It was pretty cool, but nothing special.
We then walked through an outdoor market and ended up having lunch at McDonald’s - and I’m glad we did because even though it’s cheap compared to other restaurants, it was still ridiculously expensive in Swiss Francs. After lunch we took the tram back to the train station and caught a train to Zurich. When we got there we went to the ticketing office to see about getting to Paris, which we assumed would be relatively easy compared to what we had experienced with Italy, but boy were we wrong. Turns out this weekend is a bank holiday in Switzerland, so everyone and their mother is travelling. After about an hour and a half of extreme stress, the amazing lady that was helping us figured out a way we could get to Paris for only 5 francs.. All of the previous options were somewhere in the hundreds, and they were all out of the question.
After calming down following that whole ordeal, we walked around Zurich a bit and admired the views from the shore of Lake Zurich. We were so emotionally exhausted that we didn’t end up staying that long in the city, but we felt like we didn’t miss too much. That evening we made our own dinner and had tea on our balcony. It was a nice and fun, relaxing evening and just what we needed.
~ 18 May
I’m sat on a train typing all of this up with Paris as my destination. We started off in Basel, and this is the third (and last) train of the day. I’m officially in France, and I’ve already had a bit of broken conversation with some people. It doesn’t seem like our hostel will be that difficult to find, and thankfully we don’t get in too late. Tomorrow (my birthday!) I’m going to meet my roommate from last year Sam and her brother at the Eiffel Tower, and I can wait to see them! I just saw Sam in Salzburg last month, but one can never have enough Sam.
Well, my tummy’s rumbling so I’m going to snack on an apple and will probably end up falling asleep - I’ll hopefully update again soon!
Update: I’m in Paris! Our hostel is really cute and vintage themed, but our room is ridiculously tiny, kind of grimy, and there’s only one outlet… But I’ll make do! I think the plans for tonight are pretty much just to find food. We’ll see happens.
So I’m going to skip some of my London updates and post what’s going on with me in Italy. I’m on my phone so I won’t be able to bold anything or edit it much, so hopefully it’s still understandable.
Anyway, here are my first three days in Italia (plus a little beforehand)!
~ 9-10 May
I am currently sitting on a swing in a little park at our hostel, which is like a camping village might I add, waiting to be able to check in and I figured that since I didn’t bring my computer I could use my phone to take notes and then just copy and paste them when I have wifi.
Anyhow, it has been a very, VERY long last 36 hours. Remember how I vowed to never again leave my assignments to the absolute last minute? Well…. I did. Whoops. Whatever, I got them all completed in time and that’s all that really matters. So Wednesday night was a long one, and then on Thursday my programme’a director Martin hosted a garden party at his house. All of us met at the centre and then made our way to his humble abode. He had laid out his table with all sorts of finger food, including hard-boiled quail eggs. I tried one, and they taste pretty much exactly like normal hard-boiled eggs. Except they’re a lot harder to peel…
In addition to the food (some of which he had cooked himself, and the delicious scones were made by my art professor), Martin had bought six bottles of champagne!
—- just a little psa, I stopped writing then, and now I am in bed catching up —-
It was a really great afternoon spending time with everyone. There were sooooo many tears! Saying goodbye was so hard. Not only to the other students but the staff as well!! Even my art professor started to tear up. I’m going to miss them so much. I may or may not be starting to tear up as I type… Oops.
After the garden party, Alison and I went home (with the company of our friend Sara) to change and finish packing for our trip. Then we left the house at around 11pm, and then got to gatwick at about 12:30/1:00 in the morning. We found a nice secluded corner and hit the hay, well, the linoleum. After a few hours of sleep (which actually wasn’t that bad until it got ridiculously cold), we went through security and ended up finding two other students from our programme in the lounge area! They were just about to leave, but we took their spot on the couch.
After our flight and a long but manageable journey to our hostel, we rested and waited for our rooms to be ready (that’s when I started writing), and when they finally were we took a nap. A five hour long nap. Whoops. After that was dinner- I had spaghetti of course, and then we mapped out a rough plan for tomorrow. Of course, by the time you see this tomorrow will have already happened, but whatever.
Also, just so you know, our hostel is at a camping village, and we’re staying in bungalows. They’re pretty cute and nice but a little ways out of the city centre, but thankfully there’s a shuttle to the Vatican!
Alright. Time to sleep!
So right now I’m updating my little notepad on my bed after taking a nice relaxing shower. Today was so busy! And hot! But amazing!
We woke up and got a breakfast buffet, which included ham and salami (thanks Italy), and then caught the shuttle to the Vatican City. Once we were there, we stood in awe for a bit by the ridiculously long lines, and ended up booking a private guided tour that literally saved us hours in line. We had to wait about forty minutes in total from the point of booking to when we got into the first museum, instead of waiting about four hours to get in and then not knowing anything about where we were or where to go. Our guide was awesome, and very knowledgable. We got these cool headsets that were connected to a microphone he had so we could hear him even if we were far behind him.
All of the museum bits and galleries were really interesting, but I was especially excited for the Sistine Chapel. It was amazing! And then so was St. Peter’s Basilica. It was huge!! Our guide was telling us that since everything inside was so big it would throw off our proportions, but boy was he right. St. Peter’s Square was also beautiful. Everything here is.
After hitting the Vatican souvenir shop for a quick look, we left Vatican City and reentered Italy in search for the Trevi Fountain. After finally finding it (we didn’t get lost, it just took a long time), I was in awe. I knew it was super big, but it was biggg!! And awesome. I loved it. I loved it so much. After the fountain, we started walking to the Colosseum, but stopped for lunch at this cute little restaurant. I had pizza, and it was the best pizza I’ve ever had. Soooo good. Then we continued our walk, and reached the Colosseum! It’s insane that it’s a real thing. Do you know what I mean? Like I’ve heard and known about it since I was little and it’s weird that it actually exists. And that it still exists. I don’t know. But it was awesome.
After the Colosseum we walked all the way back to the side of the Vatican City and where the shuttle back to our hostel would pick us up. It was a long walk. My feet are still throbbing, but thankfully tomorrow’s mostly a travel day so I’ll be fine.
Now I’m off for a few drinks with Alison, Sarah, and Emily, and then it’s bedtime!
After a nice breakfast at our hostel in Rome, we caught the bus and then the metro to Termini for our train to Florence. A quick two hours later we arrived! Finding our hostel here was much easier than in Rome, so that was nice. We’re in a six-bed room, so there’s a girl from Canada and a girl from Brazil with the four of us. I’ve never shared a hostel room with strangers before, but so far so good! The room itself is actually pretty huge, and we have our own bathroom and shower. And the shower has awesome water pressure, so that is a definite plus.
Speaking of water, I can’t remember if I mentioned this before and I’m too lazy to scroll back up and look, but all around Rome and so far Florence as well are water these water fountains with cold delicious water and it is seriously the best thing. And to no surprise, the tap water here is delicious too. I definitely won’t be getting dehydrated!
After checking in and walking around a bit through a market and eating some gelato, the four of us took a dip in our hostel’s indoor pool. I can’t even remember the last time I went swimming and it was so much fun. It was a great way to relax! Except that there are no towels provided and the ones for sale are really expensive and really small, so we ended up using an extra sheet as a towel… I used it again after my shower. Just so you know, using a sheet instead of a towel works probably as well as you’re thinking. (Not very well.)
We didn’t really have anything other than travel/relaxing planned for today and were saving the visits and such for tomorrow, so I was absolutely heartbroken when I saw that the gallery that has Michelangelo’s David is closed on Mondays. After a very bleak and distressing moment, I noticed that the gallery was open until 7 on Sundays, and when I was doing this mini research it was a quarter to five. There was still time! Alison, Emily, and I made the quick less-than-ten-minute walk over to the gallery, and were put off slightly by the huge line for people without booked tickets. I had seen somewhere online that there was a ticket booth along the street where you could get the tickets and then go in the much shorter reserved line, but I wasn’t sure of its validity or even where it was. We were standing in this long line when the people in front of us started talking about their tickets, and it turned out that they had bought their’s at the booth and were just standing in the wrong line. The nice lady explained to me where the booth was, and I went to check it out, leaving Emily and Alison in line just in case. When I got there I discovered that for just a couple of euros more we could go in the short line (which at that point was basically non-existent). I got the tickets and pulled Emily and Alison out of line and within about two minutes we were in the gallery! What I don’t understand is why so many people either refuse to pay the couple extra euros or just don’t know about getting the tickets ahead of time. Whatever the reason, I’m glad we jumped the line.
The hallway leading to David is lined with unfinished sculptures of prisoners by Michelangelo, and those were really interesting because you could get a better grasp on how a huge block of stone gets turned into a beautiful sculpture.
David was absolutely breathtaking. He is 17 feet of pure marble gorgeousness and is so insanely well done. I could see his veins and tendons in his hands and neck and such, and I just can’t believe how talented Michelangelo was to be able to create such a thing.
I am so ridiculously glad I was able to see him, and I’m also glad that we decided to spend the couple of extra euros because when we left the gallery an hour later, I turned and happened to see the group of people that were behind us in the long line. It had taken an hour just to get in. Although I still would have considered the wait worth it, I was hungry and too excited about seeing David.
Well, that’s about all that happened today. I’m off to bed now, goodnight!
I am currently about to leave my house in London to sleep in the airport for our early flight to Rome tomorrow. I’ll be gone until the 21st, and unfortunately I won’t be bringing my computer. I’m probably more upset about that than you are. But I am so so sorry I have been so terrible with this blog. Honestly though, if you know me well you shouldn’t have expected much from me anyway. I’ll try my best to update from my phone when I have wifi, but I can’t promise anything.
I know I suck.
So you guys can see what I’ve been seeing every day for the past three months :)
Week full of the government and Lichtenstein, and topping it off with a weekend in Salzburg!
I have a lot to get through, so I’m going to break it up by doing it week-by-week. This is the week directly following spring break.