Oh, The Places You Will Go: Europe 2014 (Part 2/2: Italy)

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Some of my favourite postcards from Italy and my ticket into Santa Croce

Hello, everyone! So. Part II of my Europe trip last year. We visited Venice, Florence and Rome in Italy, and had about more or less an overnight stay in Heidelburg, Germany.

We spent most of a day travelling from Vienna to Mestre, where we were staying for a night before heading to Venice for a day. Basically our days looked like this: travel for x hours > stay in a hotel outside of town for a night > head to new city > travel for x hours > stay in a hotel outside of town for a night, etc. So it was non-stop. It was very tiring but also very fun. It made for some great bonding time and learning how to get comfortable sleeping in a bus. 


Venice... what can I say about Venice. It was great, I did like it. Culture was rich but I gotta say. It did remind me a lot about back home. And I mean Manila, not Vancouver. The old quality of the buildings, the scars sustained from floods... it was a lot like certain parts of Manila (Intramuros in particular comes to mind even though I haven't been there for a good 10 years at least). Just without the smell of air pollution.

Anyway. We had a tour right when we got there, but I was in the back of the group and I wasn't quite able to hear everything our guide was saying (I regret this). I do remember the end of the tour being a glass-making company's studio, and for like 5 minutes in our tour of the place we got to see a craftsman make a glass figure of the Ferrari horse. It was very cool and I wish we had more time to see more of the process.

After the tour, we were free to spend a few hours around Venice and my friends and I went out to lunch and found a little restaurant with very nice staff. We had pasta, and it was my first time having authentic carbonara and OH MY GOD IT WAS GREAT. I'm pretty sure by their standards that was some average carbonara too, but to my noob taste buds they were the bomb dot com. It was great.

Lastly, we spent some time shopping. Honestly 80% of my budget on that trip was for souvenirs for my family. However, one of my most memorable purchases from that trip does happen to be a lovely handmade leatherbound journal. I'm currently still using it and it brings me happy memories.

Overall, Venice was fun. I enjoyed going into little alleys to find things, and kind of get away from crowds. And if you were wondering, no we did not get to ride gondolas. I know. Sad.


il duomo or the Florence Cathedral

Ah, Florence. I loved Florence. Florence was my favourite out of all the cities in Italy that we went to. Everything was about art and culture and yes, it was very much packed with tourists but it was also packed with artisans and good food and brilliant architecture and sculptures and it was just a bustling place and it made my little artist heart happy.

One of the things that stood out to me the most about Florence was how there were just artists on the street, each a few meteres away from each other. They just had their work displayed, while they sat and kept making art. There was one man in particular, who did watercolour landscapes and he had art prints out and he was just there. In a seat, looking like an average old Italian man, an artist's pad in his one hand and a paintbrush with the other, with a clearly well-loved palette of watercolours beside him. He was there trying to sell his work but he just looked like that was his leisure time, painting. It couldn't bother him less whether or not he got anything for it. Like he was painting just because that's what he loved to do. It made me very happy.

Florence National Library
Like I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of my money on my family while I was away and my friends and I found a little shop that sold paper goods (my favourite type of store, tbh), and a bunch of other handcrafted stuff. I wanted to buy a bunch of posters and a large world map for my older sister but I wasn't sure how to get that into my luggage (I was very sad about this). However, I did find a beautiful kaleidoscope for my younger sister, a cool little abacus for my cousin, and a handmade little journal for my older sister. I am still very proud of those presents. They also had amazing little compasses, beautifully crafted, on display in the windows and I wanted so badly to buy them for my cousin but alas, they were way too expensive.

Let's just put in a close-up of that.
We performed in a little church while we were in Florence (and I mean a little church. We could barely fit inside). I don't remember all the details of our performance, but I know that we sang in the narrow streets outside to get people to come. We were outside the church, lining both sides of the street, just singing. We became street performers for a few minutes, and it was fun. I loved it. I loved seeing people react, smile when they see us and hear us and it just felt great to sing with the group. A few people came into the church to hear the rest of our repertoire and it was another successful run. To celebrate, the adults (directors and the rest of the chaperone crew) bought everyone some gelato. It was a sweet end to the day (and yes, pun intended).


Now, Rome. As anyone who was on that trip will tell you, Rome was a little bit crazy. We got on the metro quite early in the morning and it was a shock, I think, for a lot of us who were really just used to the transportation here in Vancouver. It wasn't quite the same. We went to the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, and of course, the Colosseum. It was crazy hot the whole day, and everyone was sweating by the time we got to the Colosseum, where of course there was lots of dust blowing around in the occasional warm breeze, and we were more or less covered in a fine layer of dust by the end of the day.
At the Vatican
Anyway. the Colosseum was pretty cool. We didn't have the best guide so I didn't learn too much about the place, but I had fun seeing the ruins. It was another one of those weird moments trying to reconcile what I was seeing in the present and the history behind it. The whole thing was just mind-boggling, really. (Also the Colosseum looked much smaller than I expected inside)

Afterwards, we all got a few hours to go around the city and find some food, and my friends and I found a cheap little place and got pasta again. I think I got lasagna. Then we walked around some more and found an organic gelato place that was really good, and we went into a little art supplies shop right across from it. I got myself some brush pens and it was great.

Now, at this point we were almost meeting up again to get back to the metro so we can get to the bus so we can get going to Heidelburg so we all got to an area close to the metro station and walked there as a big group, but we were left waiting outside the metro station for a  good hour because just as we were getting on, we were told that the it was now closed. HOW?? WHAT?? It's only 7??? You're not supposed to be closed yet???

Apparently there was an accident on the trains and they had to close down the whole thing, so we ended up trying to figure out which bus to take to get to another station where our bus was. So we got into buses and since we were such a large group we had to split up and it was a little bit scary, trusting a bunch of teenagers on foreign transportation, but we all got there in the end. We got to our bus at about 10 pm, and were on the road pretty much until 3 pm the next day, where we finally arrived at Heidelburg.


Now, just a quick little thing about Heidelburg. By the time we got there, everyone was pretty much just dying to shower (being stuck in a bus for 16-ish hours with 50 other unwashed people who sweat buckets the day before just like you?? Nope), and when we were all ready, most things in our area were closed. However. That night was the FIFA Men's World Cup final and Germany was competing, so a little way out from our dorms (we stayed in a youth dorm), was a whole party watching the game, and because I was so tired I stayed in our room with a few friends and we all heard the celebrations and it was just really nice. A few people from our group went to the party and they said it was just really fun celebrating with the Germans. Haha

Wishing you all a happy weekend,