As much as I love Dublin and Ireland, I was extremely excited for the chance to travel all around Europe. This past week was our midterm break (hard to believe we’re halfway done), so a couple of my roommates and I were determined to make the most of our week off. While it was a lot of fun, there is definitely a lot to be learned from traveling to different countries.
Our trip began with a Thursday night flight to Milan! When booking our flight, we of course booked the cheapest flight possible (a 13€ flight – thank you Ryanair). However, this cheap flight unfortunately meant that we were not flying into the airport closest to the city center, but rather to an airport about an hour away from Milan. By the time we were off the plane and outside the airport, it was around 9:30 p.m. We didn’t want to take a taxi as we knew that would be expensive, so we were trying to figure out how the buses worked. There was a row of buses waiting outside the airport, but we had no idea if they were pre-booked or which one to get on. Eventually, after listening to other people who were just as confused, we figured out which bus to get on and settled in for a long bus ride. The bus dropped us off at the central train station, but we still had to figure out how to get to our hostel. Again, after a lot of confusion and asking questions, we finally figured out which tram to get on and found our way to the hostel. At this point, it was around 11:30 p.m., and we were starving. Luckily, the hostel had a restaurant, so we grabbed some very mediocre pasta and headed to bed.
We had one full day in Milan, so we wanted to make the most of it as possible. We started our day heading to the Duomo and doing a rooftop tour - which I highly recommend. None of us really knew much about Milan, so we spent our day wandering the streets and finding some attractions – and of course, gelato on the way. Milan Fashion Week also happened to be going on the same time we were there, which made people watching very interesting, as we saw plenty of people dressed up being followed around by cameras, although we had no clue who they were. Something we learned about Milan was that making a dinner reservation is a must. Unfortunately, we waited a bit too long and struggled to even find a day of booking. However, we eventually found somewhere that would take us. Thankfully it was Italy, so it was of course some of the best pasta I’d ever had.
About a thirty minute train ride away from Milan is the infamous Lake Como. Again, we came to Como with absolutely no plans of what we were going to do. So, we dropped our stuff off at the AirBnB before heading into town to walk around the lake for a bit, which was absolutely beautiful. We found a restaurant with a table in the sun and ordered some delicious pizza. After walking around a bit more, we headed to get some gelato from a place that had a long line out the door, so we knew it had to be good. All I have to say is that it was hands down the best gelato I’ve ever had and I will be thinking about it for a long time. We headed back to put on some more layers, as we had really underestimated how windy it would be. Later, we found a restaurant on the water, and of course had some more pasta. While sitting at dinner, we ended up talking to a couple from Como and they gave us a whole list of recommendations of what to do around Como. We talked to them for so long that we almost missed the last train back to our AirBnB. My absolute favorite part about traveling, however, is the moments like these where I get to meet and talk to people from all over the world and learn about a life so different from mine.
The next day, we took the funicular up the mountain to Brunate, a town at the top overlooking Como. It was absolutely beautiful up there, so we grabbed a cappuccino and sat and enjoyed the view. I am extremely glad that we had gotten up there early, because when we came down the line to get on was around the corner, while we had only waited about five minutes. We had planned on taking the ferry to Bellagio that day, which we thought would be simple as there were plenty of ferries throughout the day. However, after waiting about thirty minutes in line for a ticket, we learned that the only ferry we could take was about three hours later and there would be no more ferries going back to Como that day. We decided to go anyway and just figure it out, and I am so glad we did. We ended up getting to Bellagio with just enough time to grab some gelato and find some steps on the water to watch the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. Bellagio offers the most perfect views of the water and the mountains in the background that created a moment I will never forget. After this moment of bliss, we had to take a long, windy bus ride back to Como, standing the whole time as there wasn’t an open seat. Definitely not something I would recommend for anyone who gets motion sickness.
Our last stop in Italy was in the beautiful town of Venice. Getting to Venice took much longer than expected, as we had to get a train to Milan and then another to Verona before one more train to Venice. While the scenery was great to look at, I definitely would have appreciated about two hours less of it. We got to Venice at the end of the Venice Carnival, which meant that there were people of all ages dressed in some of the most extravagant outfits, which were very interesting to look at. My favorite thing about Venice is how all you need to do is wander through the alleys to find some of the best places. Restaurants are hidden around corners overlooking canals all over the place. We spent the first night watching the sunset over the Rialto bridge before finding a place for some more pasta.
I had actually been to Venice almost seven years ago with my family and I was dying to do a gondola ride, but my parents said they were not going to spend 80 euro on the most touristy thing in Venice. At that moment I told them that one day I was going to come back to Venice and do that gondola ride; and that’s exactly what I did. I would never admit it to their faces, but it definitely was overpriced. However, it was an unforgettable experience and I’m so glad I was able to do it. Aside from the gondola ride, we did a lot more wandering around and took plenty of pictures of canals.
Our final stop of our spring break was in Amsterdam. From the moment we got off the plane, I knew that I loved Amsterdam already. They had a train station in the airport right after you go through customs that was so easy to use. I cannot believe other cities do not have the same thing. Within thirty minutes of getting off the plane, we were walking out of the central train station into the beautiful city. Amsterdam was another place where we spent the days wandering around finding plenty of delicious street food and more canals full of beautiful buildings (and the bench from The Fault in Our Stars; I couldn’t resist).
The one thing I really did know about Amsterdam was how many bikes there were, but I was still shocked to actually see every single person there riding a bike. We ended up renting some bikes and going around a big park for a bit, which was a lot of fun, but we didn’t think we could handle riding on the streets yet.
Overall, it was an unforgettable trip as well as a great learning experience. I can’t wait to continue traveling, hopefully getting better at it every trip.
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<p>Hi! My name is Maya Reiser and I am studying Psychology, Sociology, and Communication at the University of Pittsburgh. I am studying abroad this Spring in Dublin, and I can't wait to share all of my experiences. My favorite thing in the world to do is travel anywhere I can go. The best memory I have while traveling was watching the sunset on a bridge over a river in Tuscany, Italy.</p>