The Conclusion

Drawing My Adventures To A Close

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That’s it. Two – nearly three – months of living abroad in Venice are over. Done and dusted. 837 photos, 8 blog entries and 7 Instagram posts later, I’m back.

Writing this and looking out of the plane window the cliché ‘Doesn’t Time Fly’ resonates on a number of levels…

I do have a few stories left about Venice because my last weeks were busy ones. They feature numerous art galleries, Italian nightclubs and a day of wandering around the whole city to say goodbye. (On a side note, Venice looked beautiful with its Christmas lights up, it was a shame to be leaving so soon into the festive season.)

I might venture into giving more details on these episodes, as well as about how I nearly sent Marco Polo airport into meltdown, in a few posts time. For now, I just want to draw my adventures to a close.

But it is hard to know what to write. As a keen avoider of sentiment I don’t want to write a soppy piece on how much I loved it. I mean I did love it, but that’s just not me.

So I will just leave a bit of advice for anyone considering living or studying abroad. And that advice is: Just Do It. (Nike, please don’t sue me).

There isn’t much of a point to this post except to conclude my time away. But I hope that more people find the confidence to go exploring, to see the world and put themselves outside their comfort zone at least once. You will have hundreds of stories to tell and some great pictures for social media. You won’t regret it. I promise.

The Islands

You’ll Have To Follow The Link For This One!

So I have written a great piece (in my opinion) that summarises all of the islands that surround Venice – all of which are most definitely worth a visit!

Luckily, it was such a good article that The Culture Trip let me publish it on their website!

So if you want to read it head over to:

https://theculturetrip.com/europe/italy/articles/a-guide-to-the-islands-of-venice/

Perspectives

Rome, Florence and Milan in a Teeny Tiny Nutshell

Sorry for the delay between posts, I have a great excuse…

I have been travelling for a week through Rome, Florence, Milan and then back to Venice (its alright for some isn’t it?).

However, instead of writing a post for each city, a combination of the three seems easiest, quickest and more interesting for both me and you. This may still turn into a lengthy post though.

So here it is.

What I have learnt from my past seven days is that you can never take enough pictures, I am too invested in using Snapchat location filters and that travelling puts everything into perspective.

It was important for me, a relative newby to Italy (despite my time in Venice), to see the “main sites” of each city.

I have always wanted to go to Rome for all its history and it was our first stop. It was the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and Vatican City which were on my to do list. They just had to be done.

A quick detour sentence on each of these sites seems pertinent at this point.

Despite some initial disappointment not to be surrounded by real life gladiators, the Colosseum was perfect for a historian. A slight anticlimax not being able to see it in its full glory but definitely worth the wander over if you can cope with the hundreds of other people who are also vying to see it.

The Trevi Fountain too is incredibly busy and again, it comes highly recommended (by me). Even with its popularity, there was still enough room for me to squeeze through to throw a coin over my shoulder and make a wish. It hasn’t come true just yet but I am giving it time. Its definitely worth a shot.

The final must see was Vatican City, which offers great views if you are brave enough to climb the dome of St Peter’s. Fears of heights aside, it is worth the leg workout, especially if you are looking for a new profile picture…

Whilst there were numerous other sites we explored on our seemingly non-stop tour (the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and so on), it is impossible to delve into detail for them all. But you can definitely take my word for the fact that there is enough in Rome to keep you busy for a good few days.

I don’t like to brag but in Rome alone, the pedometer counted over 20 miles worth of steps. That nearly qualifies me as an athlete.

The second stop was Florence – the city that I knew least about before arriving but it was still on my hit list.

Highlights of this particular stop included the “Create-Your-Own” Magnum shop, the Duomo in the centre as well as Piazzale Michelangelo.

There was never any doubt that some form of food would feature in this blog post and the Magnum shop has delivered. Although pretty self-explanatory, it is a must try. There are other stores in places around Italy (including Venice too actually), but sitting eating an ice cream of my own creation next to the Florentine Duomo was a 10/10 experience.

The Duomo itself isn’t too bad either I guess… Although the outside is very different to what is in it! (You’ll see what I mean if you go).

A visit to the Piazzale Michelangelo is the St Peter’s dome equivalent but just in Florence. The corner spot with the best angles has to be fought for but the panoramic views do not get much better.

Finally, it was on to Milan. The last stop. By this point, I was starting to long for my Venice home. As fun as it is to inundate your Snapchat friends with the latest location filter from each city, its also quite exhausting.

To make it a hat trick for panoramic views the Milan Duomo was the place to go. Walking across the cathedral roof was incredibly liberating, even if a little slippy and not ideally designed for a two-way flow of human traffic.

Of course, being in one of the fashion capitals, a bit of shopping never hurt anybody. The Vittor Emannuele centre is great for browsing. Unfortunately, a little out of my price range with Prada, Gucci and Louis Voutton stores but fun to window shop in none the less. Sticking to Milan’s ZARA and chocolate shops was the way forward for me.

Monumental cemetery, Sempione Park and Sforza Castle should also be  on your horizon if you are soon to be in Milan. It is not all about clothes you know.

Whilst that concludes my whistle stop run through of highlights from a six night travel excursion, there is a massive lesson that I learnt. Namely, it made me miss Venice more than I thought it would. It reaffirmed my love for my temporary home city and although I loved being on the move, it is great to be back.

My next post will be a unique one for me, I am hoping to just do a photo collection for each city, which should give you a break from having to trawl through all my hastily put together stories. It may not be of interest to some of you but I have to make my constant picture taking worth while somehow.

Behind The Scenes

On The Outside Of The Inside

Being a temporary yet long-term member of a foreign community is such an odd feeling.

You know that you are more a part of the city than the tourists because:

  1. You know your way around without Google maps
  2. You didn’t come with a selfie stick

But on the other hand, you still aren’t entirely sure about what is going on, still grasping at various verb conjugations and more importantly, not knowing where to buy mayonnaise.

On top of the basics, a prolonged stay anywhere gives you an insight behind the scenes. You get more than a tourists view when you are getting up at 7:30am each week to take the rubbish down three flights of stairs, down a multitude of alleyways and over two bridges. No one told me about this side of Venice.

For me, a true moment of behind the scenes exploration came with my first visit to the Italian doctors. Having had a reaction to a mosquito bite (I told you before you were going to need bug spray…), waking up with an eye swelling the size of a tennis ball was the perfect chance for me to see Venice from a different angle. Well half see it maybe.

First impressions are that the waiting system has the potential to be a complete free-for-all. With no appointment allocation in place, having to remember your position in the waiting order is tricky when you only have one good eye. Avoid aggravating old Italian ladies at all costs.

When you do finally get in, the hardest bit of the excursion is trying not to laugh when in a bizarre episode, an Italian doctor resembling Edna Mode from The Incredibles is coming toward you with a magnifying glass and a lamp to try and get a better look at the problem.

After everything, when you find yourself €50 lighter than before you went in, you are left valuing every minute of the experience.

At least you have know more now than you did before.

Priorities

Know What You Want

Latest update? New wifi.

Having had a new hub installed, I can safely say that more catch up binge watching has been done than studying. It is important to prioritise.

When I have managed to drag myself away from Netflix, the time since my last post has been busy.

For instance, there was the slightest sign of ‘aqua alta’ (when the water rises onto the walkways) and I have to say I was oddly excited at the prospect that we could soon be knee deep in dirty canal water. Contrary to many of my acquaintances, I have been hoping for the opportunity to debut my new wellies. Partly because they were brought especially for this trip and partly because carrying them across England and Venice in my hand luggage will not seem at all worth it otherwise.

Alas, this did not develop into their time to shine but fingers crossed it will soon. I haven’t come all the way to Venice to just read about the history. If I don’t see any water related drama before I leave, I will almost definitely consider it a wasted trip.

I have also started getting really into the health benefits of the city. On average, I have been walking about 6 miles a day, with a “highscore” of 11 miles. With statistics like that, I can guarantee that if you are looking for a destination to keep you fit without the hefty gym membership, then Venice is the place for you (it has to be good for the glutes).

Thinking that these past weeks have already flown by, I have created a priority list too of things to do when I get home, based on what I am missing most.

I am going to appreciate trees more, buy a cheap McDonalds and admire some cars. What a combination.

Whilst I acknowledge that the above snippets are very tenuously linked by the title, I like to think that it keeps you guessing at least.

Embrace It

Go With The Flow

Week One is done and to mark the occasion, I knew that I wanted to write a blog post but I just didn’t know what to write it on.

I have decided to avoid creating an extended piece on all the places I have seen so far – Torcello, the Campo San Giovanni in Bragora and Piazza San Marco (all of which I would highly recommend by the way) – as I figure you can look those up on an official website yourself for real information. I don’t mind admitting that my expertise is not in tour guiding.

Instead, I have opted to create a very short list of completely unrelated and unstructured points for you to peruse about some of the things that I have learnt recently – most of which actually have little to do with Venice itself.

Per esempio: (I thought it was about time I threw some Italian in here)

1. Church bells in the morning are a lot more annoying than I thought they were. They might sound great from afar but when its on your doorstep it is an entirely different story.

2. Always prepare before applying for a “vaparetto” card. No one told me they would take my picture on the spot which I would have to keep for 5 years… My 25 year old self is not going to thank me.

3. If you go to get a photocopy of your passport, make sure you ask for the important pages only to be scanned. Unfortunately, I made this mistake and got given a copy of every single page. At least I won’t run out of spare paper.

4. I can’t believe I’m saying it but sometimes you just have to learn to live without wifi. It has been one hell of a struggle. No Netflix, no FaceTime, no nothing – but it is possible.

5. Definitely bring bug spray. (This should be self-explanatory).

6. Make sure you explore. Having decided that ‘a Church a day keeps the doctor away’ should be a much more commonly used phrase, opting to try and visit at least one Church every 24 hours was a great decision. (If at this point you are asking ‘Why?’, well everyone needs a hobby). But seriously it is a great way to immerse yourself in the city’s culture and you should go for it, 100%.

The moral of the story is to embrace your situation. It will be worth it looking back.