Earlier this semester, I took a trip by myself to Bologna, Cinque Terre, and Venice. This was the first trip that I’ve ever done on my own and I was almost doubling the number of cities I’ve visited my entire time studying abroad. This was actually my first trip where I’ve really been able to think about the kinds of things I enjoy. As I was there by myself, everything I did was something that I really wanted to do and because of this I was really able to center in on the things that I loved and what I enjoy seeing/visiting the most. Because, while there are always certain sights that are a must see in every city, it’s important to learn the things that you really want to see and that you will get the most pleasure seeing. For example, if someone who isn't very into art goes to Paris, then they might go to the Louvre for an hour or two and then go to a small cafe in the streets of Paris and sit and drink coffee for 3 hours. On the other hand, if someone who loves art goes to Paris, they may spend 6 or 7 hours at the Louvre and grab a quick coffee from a takeaway coffeeshop. What I learned about myself is that, while I always love seeing the must sees at every city, the things I enjoy the most are sceneries, panoramic views of the city, palaces, and the food. However, I often don't spend much time at the museums.
The main thing that I really loved about Bologna was the culture of the area. Bologna really felt like a college town and you could really notice it when it gets past 6 or 7 pm. Many of the college students just started to hang out around piazzas, to play live music, and to just relax on a Friday evening. It was a very relaxing and welcoming feeling and another big aspect was that it wasn't as touristy as many of the other cities that I visited. To top it off, Bologna absolutely had the best food out of any of the cities I’ve visited. For lunch, I got tagliatelle alla bolognese, and then for dinner I got tortellini in brodo and lasagne alla bolognese. All of these dishes are very common in Bologna and the bolognese gets it’s name as it was created in Bologna.
I got to Cinque Terre around 9:30 Saturday morning. I immediately got on a train to go to Monterosso, the farthest of the 5 towns in Cinque Terre, to start my hike. Cinque Terre was the most beautiful area I’ve ever seen. It’s essentially 5 different towns all situated along a cliff and opening up to the sea. To get between the towns, you can either hike above the towns or you can take a train that runs a couple times every hour. I chose to hike between three of the cities. The hike was probably the most beautiful hike that I’ve ever done. You hike along the cliff that overlooks the sea until you get to the next town. The agriculture in the area fits perfect with the sea and every now and then there will be a local farmer along the trail making freshly squeezed lemonade or orange juice. When I got to the final city that I was visiting I sat down at an outside restaurant with a view of the sea and had a nice Italian pizza.
Venice was an incredible city. It was certainly the most beautiful of the cities I saw this weekend. The sites and areas to visit were the most magnificent. I sadly did not have enough time to go to Murano and the other nearby islands, however, going to them will certainly be at the top of my list if I’m ever able to go there again. The main issue that I had with Venice was that it was a very tourist city. Thus, sometimes it was difficult to go through crowded areas of the city and it could take awhile to get into the most popular restaurants. Luckily for me, I was able to find a couple more local places to eat that weren't as crowded but with just as amazing food. Overall, I had an amazing trip traveling around Italy. I certainly learned a lot about myself from traveling alone and planning my trips on my own. It’s an experience I’ll never be able to forget. Going on trips alone is a very interesting experience and I would really recommend it to anyone who is planning on traveling abroad. It can really test your organizational skills and it forces you to make sure that you stay on track. But, in the end, it’s really a highly rewarding feeling when you successfully finish a long trip by yourself.
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<p>My name is Josh Marrs and I am a junior from Rice University in Houston, Texas! I'm majoring in Sociology with a major interest in social inequality. My passions are playing tennis, basketball, ping pong, and any other sport I can get my hands on. Visiting Rome has been one of the biggest dreams of my life thus far and I will be fulfilling that dream by studying in Rome during the Spring of 2016. This will be my first time experiencing another country and I can't wait to share my experiences and reflections.</p>