Venice Diary- Meeting Milan for the Weekend

Venice Diary- Meeting Milan for the Weekend

June 17, 2017 Saturday

A group of us decided to go to Milan for the weekend. So we had booked our bus tickets the week before and found an inexpensive airbnb that was a two minute walk to the famous Cathedral and could fit the seven of us. At 7am, we all took the vaporetto to the bus station, except we got off a stop early because we were concerned we would miss the bus since the vaporetto was going pretty slowly. We had to walk along the road with our suitcases in tow and the sun beating down on us, but we arrived in time to get on the bus. It left at 8:15 and we got there at 8:06. It was a four hour bus ride, but luckily it was air conditioned and I had brought some reading to do. By the time we made it to Milan, we were all ready to get off and explore. But, we still had to take the subway to the center of the city where our accommodations were. As we were waiting, Iulia decided to buy a coffee out of the coffee vending machines that seem to be everywhere in Italy. The subway arrived and we got on…except for Iulia. We called out to her to hurry on, but the doors closed and we sped away right as she started towards us. So, when we got to the stop we had to get off at, we waited around for Iulia. Finally, when she found us we all walked towards our hotel. Once we got there, we had to wait since our room wasn’t ready yet, so we went out and got some coffee and food. By the time we finished, our room was ready.It was a nice apartment-type place with a loft above the living room and kitchen. There were some problems with the place, like the handle to the bathroom door falling off, but overall it was a good place for seven college students to spend the night. \

After everyone had put their stuff down and claimed their sleeping spots, they went out to either explore or shop. My back was hurting from some mysterious illness that had plagued me the entire day and made it difficult for me to walk, so I stayed in and FaceTimed my parents. When everyone came back around 20:00, we got dressed up and went out to dinner. We walked to a restaurant about 15 minutes away from us called Salsamenteria di Parma. Because there were so many of us, we were seated downstairs at a long table. What they are known for however, is serving wine in a bowl. So, I and a couple other girls had Lambrusco in a bowl with our meal. I ordered eggplant parmesan which was good but too much for me to finish. After dinner, we sat around the Cathedral, which was beautifully lit up, and listened to some street musicians play. By that point, I was tired after the long day so most of us went back to the room, while a couple girls decided to try to find a club to go to. We all ended up going to sleep around 1am.

June 18, 2017 Sunday

We woke up around 8am so that we could make it to the Cathedral before we had to check out. It is the largest church in Italy (since the Vatican is in the state of Vatican City) and the third largest in the world. There is a very strict dress code to get in, and some girls had to go and buy a shawl for about 2 euro from the shop where they sell the tickets to enter. Luckily, my outfit was appropriate so I was able to right in after I bought my ticket. There is security that checks your ticket and belongings before you go in, but after that you get to enter this gorgeous church. It was so open and elaborate, although nothing like the outside facade. There were lovely stained glass windows, tombs to dead bishops, and a list of all the bishops that had presided over the church for the past 1,000 or so years. Because it was a Sunday, there was a Mass at 9:00, which we unfortunately could not stay for because we had to check out of our hotel. So we left the Duomo di Milano to do that.

We were able to leave our luggage for the day, so after we checked out we went to the Castello Sforzesco just to look around. It was really nice to see, and if you walk through it, there is a park right behind it. We spent a lot of the day at Sempione Park. We split off and walked through it on our own. Everything was so green and alive. There were tons of flowers, some ducks in a pond, and people playing sports in the grass. Plus, it was a gorgeous day, sunny and hot. I really enjoyed just looking around at the beauty of nature. Eventually we met up at the Napoleon arch where we took some photos. As we were walking back through the park, we stopped to get some refreshments. I got pineapple juice which was delicious and refreshing. We sat in the grass in the shade and just chatted for about half an hour. It was a really enjoyable moment.

We made our way back to the Cathedral area where we again split off, and I went shopping with some friends. I didn’t buy much, but it was fun just to look at all the shops and see what was inside. By the time dinner time rolled around, I was so tired. We met up at a nice restaurant on a busy side street and all shared some meats, cheeses, and bread for dinner. With some wine of course. After we had finished our meal, we had to hurry to make it back to the bus station on time. (Can you see the trend in our inability to be on time?) Luckily we did make it to the bus, after a heated and packed subway ride. Unfortunately, this bus was not air conditioned and the ride back seemed much longer than the ride there. But make it back we did, and with memories that will last a lifetime.

IMG_2589Me filled with excitement upon arrival

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These are the (slightly eaten) sauces we had to dip our bread into with our meal

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The famous bowl of Lambrusco

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Ciao for now!

 

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Venice Week 2: Jewish Ghetto, Palaces, & Lido Beach Day

Venice Week 2: Jewish Ghetto, Palaces, & Lido Beach Day

I’ve decided to write about my experiences week by week instead of day by day because I wanted to really enjoy my time in Venice without the pressure to sit down and describe every aspect of it. I’m still going to describe what I did each day, just in a more limited fashion with a few photos here and there. So, without further ado, week 2…

June 14, 2017 Wednesday

As usual I had class in the morning from 9am to 12pm, and then spent some time hanging out before going into the city. It was a cloudy and rainy day, but I am only in Venice for a limited time so I have to make the most of it. A group of people from my class thought it would be interesting to tour the Jewish ghetto. I was going o join a little later along with my two roommates. We were supposed to meet them around 3pm, but because of the weather and the slow vaporetto system, we did not end up getting there in time to join the tour. It was incredibly humid out, so we decided to cool down and take a bathroom break inside a nearby restaurant. We bought some water to rehydrate, and as I was waiting outside for the other two girls, I saw a tour go by with some familiar faces in the group. It just happened to be our friends who had arrived before us, and they were taking the tour. We tagged along near the back of the crowd for a bit, but we couldn’t follow them inside some of the synagogues because we hadn’t actually paid to be on the tour. So, we said see you later and made a plan to meet up with them in half an hour for dinner.

While waiting for them, the three of us walked around the little shops and tried to learn some of the history of the ghetto. When we found the others again, we walked to a nice little restaurant called Gam Gam Kosher Restaurant, and we ordered a bunch of different foods to share. Luckily for us, it started raining while we were eating and was finished by the time we were ready to leave. We explored a little bit more that day, but then headed back to San Servolo for an early night and to catch up on some reading.

June 15, 2017 Thursday

Again, I started the day off with class. Since it was Thursday, we watched a movie called “Don’t Look Now” which was kind of haunting and scary, but still pretty cool to watch. It was a hot and sunny day, so after class some of us girls wanted to go to the beach. We took a vaporetto to Lido laden down with our bags filled with bathing suits, towels, and sunscreen. Once at Lido, we walked to the end of the island to the free beach because who wants to pay for a day at the beach? Along the way, we stopped into a little cafe/ grocery store for some food supplies. I bought a spinach stuffed pizza thing (great description, I know), and we all bought a large liter of Orange soda and water to drink on the beach. Once we were actually at the beach, we changed into our bathing suits and proceeded to spread out the orange tapestry that Iulia had bought from a beach peddler. We took turns going into the water, making sure someone was always with our stuff. The beach was crowded and it was later in the day, but it sure was fun and relaxing to be on a beach in Italy. But because it was later  (around 17:00) and it had been so hot all day, the water was actually pretty warm. It was still nice to go in and swim, it just wasn’t the refreshing cool water that it normally is. When it was my turn to stay with our belongings, I took out my packet of Proust and proceeded to read. There was a slight breeze that turned the pages and pushed my hair into my eyes, and it was pure perfection to be reading on this beach.

We left around 18:00, and walked along the sidewalk to a restaurant we had been to before. We sat outside under the canopy and the waiter had to push two tables together to accommodate the five of us. We took a look at the menu, and I decided to try the spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti with clams). It is one of my favorite dishes and I was not disappointed with my meal choice. It tasted delicious and I devoured all of it. Obviously we all had a glass of wine with the meal, and I chose Prosecco which I thought went well with my pasta. We ended our meal with some gelato and then walked back to wait for the vaporetto.

June 16, 2017 Friday

Since we don’t have class on Fridays, a group of us decided to visit the Ducal Palace in St. Mark’s Square. It is something we had passed for two weeks now without ever going inside. So, we bought tickets online beforehand (which I recommend doing because the lines to buy tickets there are so long, and it saves a lot of time) and headed over around noon. To start with, the courtyard inside is big and beautiful and you can see the design of the building as a whole. It is quite a nice sight to see. There are curved arches, marble statues, and elaborate architecture. Inside the actual palace is even better. The ceilings are covered with breathtaking artwork and carvings, the rooms are massive and filled with historical and incredible paintings, and the sheer size of it all is almost overwhelming. I could have spent hours in one room in particular, I think it was the ball room, since it was huge and along all the walls and the ceiling were masterpieces of artwork.

I took a stroll down to the dungeons, and along the way there was this neat window that looked out into the canal. I felt kind of sorry for the prisoners who were kept in these dungeons because they were essentially at or under the canal level, so it was damp and dingy. I’m sure some of them probably deserved to be down there, don’t get me wrong, but the conditions were dark, damp, and depressing. Not somewhere I would want to live, but it was pretty neat to visit. I would definitely recommend taking a day to explore this magnificent and dominating building if you’re in Venice.

Ciao for now!

Venice Day 10: Pasta Dinners and Night Time Strolls

Venice Day 10: Pasta Dinners and Night Time Strolls

June 13, 2017 Tuesday

I woke up late around 8:20 and hurriedly got ready for the day. I walked to breakfast alone and had my usual meal. When I got to the restaurant, I didn’t see anyone I knew so I initially sat alone. But about two minutes later I looked up and through the glass of the window I saw Iulia and Adriana who I subsequently went to join. I ate for another five minutes before we rushed to class where the discussion was on Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. During the 15 minute break, I walked down to the cafe and ordered an espresso then joined some of the others at a table to chat.

After class some people went off to have their own adventures. I and some others stayed on San Servolo for some much needed rest and to get a lot of work done. The plan was to meet up with essentially everyone in our class later on in the night and get dinner and drinks together. It’s nice because the rest of the week we’re usually all off in separate groups doing our own things.

Around eight o’clock, we took the vaporetto into the main city and made our way to Dosoduro. It was a nice walk under the clear sky that was slowly beginning to darken. At the restaurant (I wish I could remember the name of it because it was great), we met up with some of the kids from the other class and proceeded to order our classic Italian food. The portions were pretty big, so one of my friends and I decided to split the pasta with fish, and the staff were kind of enough to bring it out to us in two separate bowls. It was a fantastic meal with great food and lots of laughter. We sat outside and it was beautiful to look around at the restaurant at dusk. As is the custom, the waiters came around to ask if anyone would like any coffee or dessert. I and some others ordered espressos. One of my favorite moments of the night was when the waiter brought out the espressos on a tray, and when he went to place it down in front of the guy across from me, he pretended to spill the espresso all over him. We all laughed hysterically when we saw that the cup was empty and attached to a string. That was in essence the way we had been treated all night by the staff; they were genial, accommodating, and overall almost like friends. When we left, they waved us off and offered us some candy for the road.

We then headed to the Rialto area where we took in the view from the bridge at night. When we decided to go back, some of us stopped in Piazza San Marco to wait for the next vaporetto in a scene of beauty. We sat on the steps talking, laughing, and viewing the activity of San Marco’s at night until it was time to go back.

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Ciao for now!