Wow, what a weekend.
Early Saturday morning me and two of my roommates, Alyssa and Vicky, took the train to Venice. Venice was the only city I said I would not leave Italy without seeing. I was so excited about it that I had finally decided that I'd built it up in my head so much that it couldn't possibly compare with the expectations I had in my head. Wrong. It was everything I imagined and so much more. Its by far my favorite Italian city so far. First of all, perfect weather. Since we were only there for the day we just decided to explore. I looked up a ton of lists online about what to do it Venice and almost all of them said, just get lost. I walked more this weekend than I think I've ever walked before. We just wandered around. We literally couldn't walk 10 feet without stopping to take pictures. It was so beautiful there. It seems like it should be an imaginary city. There is not a single car on the island, only boats and bicycles. I loved it. There were a ton of shops so we went in a bunch of those. Of course, the thing I wanted to do most in Venice was ride a gondola, but I head heard and read that they are around 100-130 euros for a short ride. Luckily, we decided to ask anyway. We paid 20 euros each for like a 30 minute ride. It was the most relaxing thing ever. Amazing. Afterwards we grabbed dinner then took Alyssa to the train station. She went back to Florence for the night because she wanted to relax and go to church in the morning.
Our original plan was that the three of us would go to Venice for the day. Our other three roommates, Jackie Cassie and Caroline went to Chinque Terra for the day, then we were going to all meet in Milan Saturday night. Well they decided to stay in Chinque Terra and we wanted to stay in Venice. We got lucky enough to switch our train tickets for Milan that night for tickets for the next morning for no charge so we got to stay in Venice for the night. Of course, since it was so spontaneous, we didn't have a place to stay. We tried one hotel that was booked, not to mention 150 euros a night. We went looking for more hotels and stumbled upon a hostel near the train station and got a room. Things went so smoothly we couldn't believe it. It was my first hostel experience. It was pretty cool. There was a big terrace outside out room on the 4th floor that overlooked the whole city. Awesome.
Now, for the cherry on top of an amazing day. We had seen signs earlier that day, that Norah Jones was playing a show that night outside in San Marco Square. I love her music and was so bummed that we'd be missing it, but since we got our tickets changed we got to see her! Well, not really see her, but hear her. They had the area around the stage blocked off but we sat near by and could still hear really well. I honestly felt like I was in a dream. We got a glass of white wine, and I laid in the middle of a Venice street, listening to Norah Jones singing Come Away With Me, with a perfect view of the water and looking up at a GORGEOUS starry sky. I saw two shooting stars. It definitely made top 5 for best days of my life. Needless to say, Venice stole my heart.
Oh, also, I haven't written about my Memphis friend yet. He was on a tour through the school of Venice, so he met us there for the last part of the concert. His name is Matt. On one of the first days of orientation, they made us line up across from someone you didn't know and find out three things about him. So, I line up in front of this random guy, and it turns out he's from Memphis. Crazy coincidence. He went to Houston High School and goes to Germantown Methodist, and works for Holland Studios. Weird. We know some of the same people. We just had to come across the world to meet each other. I guess it really is a small world after all?
Anyway, the concert ended around 11, and we had to be back at the hostel by 12:30 or they close the doors. So we leave, and realize we are literally on a separate island and had a lot of walking to do. We tried to take a water taxi but it cost 50 euros, so we nixed that idea. We saw a little ferry thing that was I guess the equivalent to a subway, but we had NO idea how it worked. We asked a guy and ended up RUNNING to make it on. We walked on as they were shutting the gate. We were the last people on an extremely crowded boat. I loved every minute of the insanity. We made it back just in time and got a good nights sleep.
So, this morning we were supposed to leave and meet the other three girls in Milan, but they waited to get their tickets and the time they needed to leave was sold out so they ended up just going back to Florence. So, me and Vicky spent some more one on one quality time in Milan, ha. Milan was okay. It wasn't really my cup of tea, but Im glad we went and I got to see it. In my opinion, its mostly just like a normal American big city. Since it was Sunday, a lot of the stores were closed, which was fine because its not like we would've been able to buy anything anyway, ha. There is literally any designer brand you could want; Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace, Armani, and tons of others I'd never heard of. And for some reason, amidst all the luxury, I counted 6 McDonalds, haha. Before Milan I had only seen one.
We just spent the day window shopping and sat at a cafe for a while. Of all people, Im so glad I got to go with Vicky. She is a fashion merchandising major from LA. Since I know absolutely nothing about high end brands, she gave me the down low on a lot of it, and it was cool to see her in her element and get so excited about it. We had fun.
Most of the cities in Italy are walking based, and there aren't a ton of cars. Milan is an exception. Its the kind of city thats so big and spread out that you need to drive. We did not. Ha, again, I did more walking that I ever have, not to mention with my backpack full of everything I needed for the whole weekend. It was a wonderful, but tiring weekend.
We're back in Florence now. I plan on taking a niiice cold shower and hitting my bed-bug-free bed, ha. Speaking of, tomorrow we have to be out of the apartment for the whole day while its being fumigated. Should be an adventure.